Metro Weekly

Virginia Beach human rights commissioner calls homosexuality an “abomination” and a “mental illness”

Hampton Roads Pride denounces comments and calls on city to examine vetting process for commission appointees

Brother LaKendrick Coburn El, a.k.a. Kenick El – Photo: Facebook.

A member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission is refusing to apologize for a series of Facebook posts in which he lamented the “promotion” of homosexuality and transgenderism, claiming it offensive to his religious beliefs.

Brother LaKendrick Coburn El, also known as “Kenick El” — who was appointed to the 19-member commission by the City Council in May — took to Facebook on Monday to rant about the LGBTQ community.

In one post, he linked to a story about a transgender woman in Wyoming who was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor in a “bathroom” (the assault took place inside a private residence, but has been used by anti-LGBTQ groups to urge lawmakers to ban transgender people from public, multi-user restrooms), writing: “I have daughters and I won’t accept sharing a restroom with a grown man suffering from this mental illness.”

“Men trying to be women and women trying to be men is really confusing our children and I’m tired of seeing this nonsense promoted to our children,” El wrote. “Homosexuality is an abomination to the Human Race.”

Another post read: “Homosexuality is a mental illness and should be treated as such…. Stop promoting this agenda to our children and being passive with your loved ones suffering from this mental illness. Accepting someone for who they are doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself and you have freedom of expression according to the Constitution.”

“Stop promoting your sexual behavior expecting special treatment based on who you’re having sex with,” El wrote in a third post, according to Norfolk-based NBC affiliate WAVY. “What you do in the privacy of your own home is your right and if you choose to share your private life in the public, then you subject yourself to public scrutiny and learn why you should stop imposing on us heterosexual parents.”

The posts attracted the attention of the pro-LGBTQ group Hampton Roads Pride, which denounced El’s remarks.

“This rhetoric is harmful, it’s hurtful, it’s very disheartening,” Cole Werkheiser, the president of Hampton Roads Pride, said.

The organization also sent a letter to Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer expressing their disappointment and questioning the vetting process for people appointed to the Human Rights Commission.

Members of the commission are appointed by the City Council for three-year terms.

Specifically, Hampton Roads Pride called for an evaluation of the vetting process for all city appointees to boards and commissions, including the issuance of a report containing any recommendations for improvements or changes to the vetting process.

The organization also called for all city appointees to be required to complete a comprehensive inclusion and diversity training, and for the Human Rights Commission to engage with and seek input from the LGBTQ and allied communities on how best to advance the commission’s goals of promoting and protecting the human rights of all Virginia Beach residents.

“I’d like to think if we asked a few more questions, maybe we would have found out some of [El’s] views aren’t in concert with the mission of the human rights commission,” Werkheiser said of the commissioner’s comments.

That said, El recently voted in favor of a resolution calling on the General Assembly to ban conversion therapy in Virginia — a priority that has been included in the city’s “legislative agenda,” or its requests to lawmakers in Richmond, for the 2020 session.

El has declined to comment publicly on the reaction to his posts, but wrote on his Facebook page that his views were written on his “personal page” and express his personal views.

Sylvia Nery-Strickland, the chair of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission, issued a statement saying that El “does not speak on behalf” of the commission.

“The HRC is a very diverse group of individuals who come together for common good and equality for all. However, each commissioner has individual beliefs, and we do not always agree,” Nery-Strickland said. “I personally do not agree with the postings and other commissioners have contacted me and they do not agree as well, but rather support and value our fellow LGBT commissioners, family members, friends and supporters.”

Read more:

Tennessee county commissioner calls Pete Buttigieg a “queer” during anti-gay rant

South Carolina restaurant called police on trans woman for using women’s restroom

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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