Gay Pride Flag

Rights Focus: Hate Crimes

Hate crime laws are very different across the nation. Some state laws protect many more groups than others. Ohio has a relatively weak hate crime law, while the federal government’s law is much stronger and more inclusive. Ohio's hate crime statute () is not a standalone crime, but offers additional penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, color, or national origin. However, there are no protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Protections for LGBTQIA community and persons with disabilities are only found in federal law (). Victims should keep in mind that these federal protections only apply to violations of federal criminal law, not state law. On the bright side, several Ohio cities, including Columbus, have hate crime laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. However, these laws only apply within city limits. House Bill 289, The Ohio Fairness Act, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of persons protected against hate crimes in Ohio.