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Kidnapped, robbed and killed - but Matthew Shepard is to finally be laid to rest after 20 years

He will be interred in the Washington National Cathedral.

THE REMAINS OF a gay US college student whose murder became a symbol of homophobic violence will be interred at Washington National Cathedral 20 years after his death.

Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, robbed and beaten in 1998, then left to die strapped to a ranch fence in Laramie, Wyoming.

The 21-year-old hung on the fence for 18 hours until two passing cyclists found him. His death five days later in a Colorado hospital triggered a national outcry.

“He was 21 years old, which means he’s been gone almost as long as we had the pleasure of having him in our lives,” said Shepard’s family.

Scores of mourners attended his funeral but it was picketed by homophobic protesters.

As a result, his parents did not choose a final resting place for his ashes, concerned it would be desecrated, according to US media reports.

Matthew Shepard 20th Anniversary A cross of stones at the fence where Matthew Shepard was killed. Source: AP/PA Images

But on 26 October, Shepard will be interred at the Episcopal Church’s Washington National Cathedral in a private ceremony following a public remembrance service.

“Join the cathedral as we host a service of thanksgiving and remembrance for Matthew Shepard, whose brutal death in 1998 shocked the world, grieved the church and mobilized the LGBTQ movement,” the cathedral said on its website.

In 2009, the US congress approved legislation named after Shepard bolstering prosecution of “hate crimes” committed because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability.

- © AFP, 2018

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