LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 5, 1997

Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles,CA,90053
(Fax 213-237-7679 or 213-237-5319, print run 1,103,200)
(E-MAIL: letters@latimes.com) (http://www.latimes.com)


Media: Activists decry remarks on a show urging death for homosexuals. The Christian station's manager defends 'honest dialogue.'

By LORENZA MUNOZ, Times Staff Writer

COSTA MESA--Gay and civil rights activists are angry and worried about comments made on the air by an Orange County Christian radio talk show host that homosexuality should be punishable by death.

Rich Agozino, host of "Crosstalk" on radio station KBRT-AM (740) in Costa Mesa, urged callers to write to their state legislators asking them to enact laws that would punish homosexuality according to biblical law, meaning capital punishment, according to a transcript of the Aug. 29 show.

"Lesbian love, sodomy are viewed by God as being detestable and abominable.... Civil magistrates are to put people to death who practice these things," Agozino said, according to the transcript.

Gay rights activists, who said they frequently monitor the radio station, said Agozino's statements could incite violence against homosexuals.

"This is really appalling," said Bill LaPointe, publisher of The Blade, a monthly news magazine for gays and lesbians. "It really sent shivers down my spine."

But station manager Ed Personius said Agozino was simply encouraging listeners to follow the "word of God."

"I think it's an honest dialogue concerning Christian beliefs," Personius said. "Rich is simply querying Christians on what the word of God says, and if that is what you believe [then] are you willing to act on it."

KBRT broadcasts from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Personius said. Agozino has had a daily program on the station for three months.

Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, a nonprofit civil rights organization, said the commission will discuss Agozino's remarks and how to respond to them at its meeting Thursday.

"I think it's irresponsible and hurtful and the kind of logic that leads some people to violence against some people solely because they are perceived to be homosexuals," he said. "It's a thinly veiled call to violence against people who he calls abominable."

In Orange County last year, there were 15 reports of hate crimes against gays and lesbians, Kennedy said. That number has decreased significantly from an all-time high of 35 in 1992.


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