CLEVELAND — An Ohio state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill next week that would make crimes targeting someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability a hate crime.
The announcement by state Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood, Ohio) comes following recent attacks on patrons outside a popular Cleveland gay bar.
The lack of Ohio’s hate crime law for crimes against people who are gay came to light after Jared Fox, 26, was attacked by a mob of young people over Labor Day weekend.
Fox said he was headed from his parked car to Cocktails bar, when a group of approximately 20 men surrounded him on the sidewalk, using anti-gay slurs. He was attacked by the group, punched in the face repeatedly and was knocked to the ground, while surveillance cameras captured grainy footage of the attack.
A 16-year-old male teen was arrested in conjunction with the attack, but will not face escalated charges because Ohio’s “Ethnic Intimidation” law only lists crimes that are committed against someone based on the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.
“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 told WJW-TV.
She said she is currently looking for co-sponsors for the bill, and believes it will get bipartisan support.
According to the most recent FBI statistics, from 2011, there were 228 hate crimes in Ohio. Of those, 25 percent were based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.
Ohio is one of 14 states that does not have LGBT-inclusive hate crimes laws.