By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com September 29 2013 12:36 PM ET
When an openly gay man was brutally beaten outside a Cleveland gay bar last month, police believed the assault qualified as a hate crime. But they couldn't charge the assailants with a bias-related assault, because Ohio doesn't have a law specifying elevated punishments for crimes intended to intimidate an entire segment of the community.
But one state lawmaker plans to change all that.
Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Democrat representing Lakewood, Ohio, told Cleveland's WJW that she plans to introduce legislation that would make it a hate crime to target or assault someone based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
"I think it's especially important that we raise our consciousness this year, because in 2014, as many people are aware, the Gay Games are coming to Northeast Ohio, and we want to be an open, welcoming, and safe place for people who are going to be coming from all over the world," Antonio said.
WJW notes that in 2011, the FBI reported 228 bias-based crimes in Ohio. Roughly a quarter of those hate crimes were against people perceived as gay or transgender.