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A man in the US has been sentenced to at least 15 years in jail after burning an LGBTQ pride flag that was stolen from a church building.

Adolfo Martinez, a 30-year-old from Ames, Iowa, was sentenced to 15 years on Wednesday after being found guilty of committing a “hate crime”. He was also sentenced to one year for reckless use of fire and 30 days for harassment.

Martinez reportedly stole the flag, which was hanging at Ames United Church of Christ, and burned it outside the Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club, a strip club two blocks away from the church.

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Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said the “hate crime” charge was added because Martinez targeted the church’s property on the basis of “what it represents as far as sexual orientation.”

Ms Reynolds said, the judge agreed to a 17-year sentence because Martinez has a long history of “harassment” and never showed any remorse.

In June, Martinez told a local news outlet he does not regret his actions and has no intention of fighting the charges.

“It was an honour to do that,” Martinez said. “It’s a blessing from the Lord.”

Eileen Gebbie, the “Senior Minister” at the church, who also identifies as a gay woman, said the harsh sentence sends a strong message: “We do not tolerate hatred on the basis of biology.”

 


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