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Canadian gay activist slain

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, April 17 (UPI) -- Prominent gay activist Ryan Taavel was beaten to death outside a gay club in Halifax, Nova Scotia, early Tuesday and police said they had a suspect in custody.

Two witnesses said Taavel and a friend had just left the Menz Bar when they saw the two men get into a confrontation with a third man. Taavel's friend fled after being beaten.

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The witnesses said the assailant used homophobic slurs during the assault, during which Taavel's head was slammed repeatedly into the sidewalk, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Taavel was pronounced dead at the scene.

Taavel was a former chairman of Gay Pride week events and editor of Wayves magazine. He also worked for Shambala Sun Magazine.

A memorial vigil was planned for Tuesday night, the network said.

The 32-year-old suspect, who was arrested nearby, had been on unescorted leave from the East Coast Forensic Hospital at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth, the CBC said.

He was expected to be charged with second-degree murder.

The CBC said the suspect, described in court documents as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was at the facility after being found not criminally responsible on a charge of assault causing bodily harm in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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