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October 18, 2013

Bill would add LGBTs to Ohio’s hate crime law

Columbus--Citing Ohio Department of Public Safety statistics showing that 16 percent of hate crimes are based on sexual orientation, Rep. Nickie Antonio introduced a bill on October 11 to add sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the state’s “ethnic intimidation” law.

Ohio is one of 20 states whose hate crime laws do not include sexual orientation or gender identity, including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Part of the impetus for the bill is a string of anti-gay attacks on Cleveland’s west side, as well as the murder earlier this year of CeCe Acoff, a transgender woman who was found in a retaining pond in Olmsted Township. Andrey Bridges was arrested in the Acoff case, and awaits trial.

The ethnic intimidation law presently covers menacing, aggravated menacing, criminal damaging or endangering, criminal mischief and telecommunications harassment, if it is motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.

Nationally, in 2011, almost 21 percent of hate crimes were based on sexual orientation, and in Ohio, that rose to one quarter of reported hate crimes. While U.S. law allows federal law enforcement agencies to aid hate crime investigations or step in when local agencies cannot investigate them as hate crimes, prosecutions under the federal Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Act are rare.

A 2011 bill that would have added sexual orientation was introduced by State Rep. Michael Stinziano of Columbus, but it died in committee.

Antonio’s bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-dominated legislature, but she has proven herself adept at reaching out to moderate members of the state GOP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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