Toledo strengthens hate crime law to include transgender peopleWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | email@example.com
Toledo City Council recently approved new language to strengthen the city’s existing hate crime law, adding language that clarifies and expands the section related to sexual orientation.
The former ordinance, Toledo Municipal Code Section 554.06, read: “‘Intimidation’ under this section means committing a specified crime against an individual, or group, exclusively or in part, because of that victim’s race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, handicap, age or sexual orientation.”
In the new ordinance, Toledo Municipal Code Chapter 555, the word “intimidation” is replaced by “hate crime” and the phrase “sexual orientation” is replaced by a broader description: “a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity, by orientation or practice.”
The updated language, passed by a 12-0 vote during City Council’s Dec. 2 meeting, comes after the robbery and assault of transgender woman Candice Milligan in Downtown Toledo last month.
Milligan, whose broken jaw is still wired shut, attended the meeting and said she was happy with the vote.
“I was here to make sure the hate crimes ordinance passed as it should have been,” Milligan said. “It’s important to help people who live here who are a member of this community feel safe and also to send a message that hate crimes are not going to be tolerated here, that that kind of behavior isn’t going to be tolerated here and this is a place where that’s not welcome.”
Milligan told police she heard homophobic and transphobic comments before being attacked by three men near 13th Street and Madison Avenue at 2:50 p.m. Nov. 3. One suspect, Christopher Temple, has been charged with aggravated robbery and felonious assault. He has pleaded not guilty and has a trial set for later this month. The other two alleged attackers have not been identified.
City Law Director Adam Loukx said the city wanted to flesh out the language “just to be clear.”
“Our prior ordinance on the books was not as complete in terms of definition,” Loukx said. “This clarifies the ordinance and tightens it up. Just to make sure, we wanted to make sure we spelled it out very clearly.”
However, the city’s ordinance affects only offenses up to first-degree misdemeanors, such as traffic violations and nuisance housing violations, not felonies, such as Milligan’s assault, Loukx said. Felonies are charged under state law, which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its hate crime statute.
“To the extent where a situation may arise where a misdemeanor is the level of offence, it’s certainly a valuable tool in enforcement and would allow the city to treat it with the maximum degree of seriousness,” Loukx said.
David Crafts, executive director of EqualityToledo, applauded the effort, but said more work is needed.
“It’s a good positive step,” Crafts said. “EqualityToledo is very impressed with the speed that City Council, especially Councilman Jack Ford, approached the topic and got some changes made.
“I appreciate the clear delineation between sexual orientation and gender identity, which are two very different things and many people continue to lump them into the same category. I’m also excited they’ve changed the verbiage to include the word hate crime, because we know many crimes are motivated by hate.”
Crafts said many hate crimes go unreported by the victim out of fear. He said EqualityToledo is interested in talking to Toledo Police about establishing a liaison to the LGBT community to “continue to make inroads toward social justice.”
“It’s something we have started to put our feelers out there for and are hoping they will be receptive,” he said.