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Canadian gay rights activist killed breaking up fight with psychiatric patient

Raymond Taavel died soon after being assaulted breaking up a fight outside a gay bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Raymond Taavel, Canadian gay rights activist

Canadian gay rights activist Raymond Taavel, 49, died early on Tuesday morning after being assaulted trying to break up a fight between two men outside Menz & Mollyz, a gay bar on Gottingen Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Police have arrested psychiatric patient Andre Noel Denny, 32, who was staying at a nearby hospital and had been allowed out for an hour on Monday evening. He was reported missing just before 9pm and two officers went out to look for him. He was eventually found by police dogs in an alley near the spot where Taavel died. Denny is due in court today to face a charge of second-degree murder.

Taavel was a LGBT activist, writer and former editor of Wayves, a Canadian gay and lesbian magazine. He was once co-chair of Halifax Pride. When he died he was circulation manager for Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma Buddhist magazines.

Barry Boyce, a senior editor who worked with Taavel at Shambhala Sun for 13 years told The National Post on Tuesday: 'We're in shock. The staff haven't left but we're not getting any work done today… He had a lovely, joyous presence.'

Last night (Tuesday) hundreds attended a candle-lit vigil in held in Taavel's memory at the spot where he was killed.

A spokesperson for Halifax Regional Police, Const. Brian Palmeter said in a statement on Tuesday: 'There has been speculation online and in the community that this was a hate crime. While we cannot provide specific information about the case, as it is still under investigation, police have spoken to a number of witnesses and are considering all possibilities with respect to the motive.'

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