Cincinnati, Ohio- April 2, 2009: Equality Cincinnati's mission is to work for full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Greater Cincinnati and to prevent discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That's why we feel it is imperative to release a statement that on a hate crime that occurred on March 22, 2009. Late that night, a gay male was attacked outside of Bronze [sic], a popular Cincinnati gay bar. The details of the attack are that less than a minute of stepping outside of the gay bar, the victim was approached by three men. The men attempted to rob him but found no money. One of the attackers then said the victim, "You're a pretty fag" and took out a knife and sliced the victim's cheek approximately 2 inches in length and nearly through the entire cheek. The victim began profusely bleeding and ran into the bar and 911 was called. The victim was then taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and his injuries were treated. Police reports were filed with District 5 police; however, the incident has not been identified as a hate crime. Equality Cincinnati met with the victim and listened to his experience. Equality Cincinnati will be working with the police to discuss what further avenues need to be taken so that this violent incident is classified as a hate crime--an action which is important to the victim and our community in appropriately naming and reporting the violence. Also in response to this incident, Equality Cincinnati is lining up volunteers who will be launching bar and club outreach throughout the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community to ensure that LGBTQ patrons are reminded of safety precautions and numbers to call for help and support. In the meantime, we ask that you be aware of your surroundings and use the "buddy-system" when entering and leaving our gay community's bars, clubs, and restaurants. If you experience a hate crime or any harassment, please report it to the police and Equality Cincinnati www.equalitycincinnati.org.Two bits from Equality Cincinnati in a week -- pretty good work.
It is also important to remember that hate crime laws in Cincinnati only cover misdemeanor crimes, and many areas across the country have no hate crime laws against the LGBT community. On Thursday, April 23, 2009 HR 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, (known as the Matthew Shepard Act) cleared its first hurdle in Washington , D. C, winning approval from the House Judiciary Committee by a 15-12 vote. It will be going to the House Floor for a vote that could happen as soon as next week. Please contact your local Congressperson and ask them to support this bill. Contact information for your Congressperson can be found at https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
I'm all for the creation of the Pink Pistols in town -- queers with guns. Hell to the yea. (Or, perhaps, a better suggestion: Queer Self Defense Classes -- even awesomer, and probably more legal.) Also: I'm all for hate crimes legislation. As I've said before (somewhere, I'm not quite sure), one of the purposes of illegalization is to indicate that something is so morally reprehensible as to be against the law. However, it's important to remember that you are not protected because the law is in place. Be careful out there.
Sad, though, that we have to seek protection in our own enclaves.