Bil Browning

Hate Crime Charges Possible in Attack on Indy Gay Man?

Filed By Bil Browning | November 13, 2013 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: anti-gay violence, hate crimes legislation, Indiana, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Wrong-landscape.jpgAfter an Indianapolis gay man was severely beaten outside of a gay bar, a local television station is claiming that the Indianapolis Police Department will investigate the attack as a possible hate crime. Unfortunately, this report is nonsense wrapped in homophobia.

CBS affiliate WISH-TV 8 wrongly reports:

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a vicious attack as a possible hate crime.

According to police, two men attacked a man after he left Varsity Lounge, a gay bar, on Halloween night. The bar is located on the 1500 block of North Pennsylvania Street.
The victim was still being treated in the intensive care unit as of Nov. 11. He's expected to go through rehabilitation.

Police say the investigation may turn into a hate crime because during the attack, the suspects did not take anything from the victim, but they called him several slurs. The FBI defines a hate crime as a bias criminal offense based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

Indiana is one of only five states that doesn't have a hate crimes law on the books. Neither local nor state police can investigate anything as a hate crime because there is no such thing in Indiana law. The only protections Hoosiers have against violence motivated by discrimination is in federal law.

For the FBI to step in, there has to be a violation of federal law. Did the suspect cross state lines? Did the suspect use a firearm during the crime? There are a few other reasons, but none of them give a local police department the ability to investigate a violent attack motivated by bias as a "hate crime" if there is no such law on the books.

The FBI can choose to investigate the crime and possibly forward their results on to the Department of Justice for further action, but no prosecutor in the state of Indiana can file hate crimes charges.

Indiana has no protections in place for LGBT citizens. Neither hate crimes legislation nor any sort of employment, housing, or public accommodations protections have been debated on the floor of either chamber of the state legislature.

The only time LGBT issues have been debated at the Statehouse has been to pass a law banning same-sex marriage, repeatedly push a potential amendment to the state constitution to double ban marriage equality and civil unions, and to attempt to yank a vanity license plate permit given to an LGBT youth group.

There are no openly LGBT lawmakers in the Indiana legislature.

Hoosier lawmakers will decide during the upcoming session on whether or not to advance the proposed constitutional amendment. If it passes this year, the amendment would be put to referendum in November of 2014. As the rest of the country moves forward in recognizing marriage equality and courts around the country are striking down anti-marriage laws, if Indiana's bill goes forward it will be the last amendment attempted in the United States.

WISH-TV should correct their reporting immediately to truly reflect the lack of protections for LGBT people in Indiana.

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