A Los Angeles gay rights organization has protested the decision by Manhattan Beach police to release — and many local media to publish — the names and photos of 18 men arrested in an undercover sex sting at a public restroom.
Leaders of the Los Angeles Gay Lesbian Center contended that last week’s release of the mug shots, names and birth dates of the men could lead to public humiliation and more severe consequences.
The social service agency said one of the arrestees had reported to them that a fellow suspect attempted suicide after the results of the sting were made public. A center official said Monday that he had no additional details about the suicide report.
Manhattan Beach Police Chief Eve Irvine said Tuesday that the release of suspects’ photos was standard operating procedure. “This is consistent with our practice,” Irvine said. “It was never our intention to humiliate anyone, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.”
The case and the coverage it has received have set off spirited discussion on several news sites. Some argued that the arrests and publicity will be useful in dissuading others who might want to procure sex in a public place. Others said the attention given to the suspects, who have not been charged, echoed the public shaming visited on gays in decades past.
Jim Key, chief spokesman for the Gay Lesbian Center, said the Manhattan Beach Police Department could have worked with the center to try to stop men from meeting in the restroom, located beside the beach at the foot of Marine Avenue. Key said the Los Angeles Police Department took the public education approach, rather than mass arrests, to cut down on a public sex problem at Griffith Park.
Irvine said she would meet with representatives of the Gay Lesbian Center later this week and is open to working with the organization if suspicions arise in the future that public facilities have been turned into meeting places for sex. “Anything we can do
This article originally appeared on: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/me-gay-sting-20120411,0,411399.story