September 8, 2018
Written by Bristow Marchant
An attack on a transgender woman in Charleston last month is re-igniting talk about whether South Carolina needs a hate-crime law.
LGBT advocates say they would like to see the state adopt an expansive definition of hate crimes after a trans woman was knocked unconscious outside a nightclub on Aug. 19.
A suspect in the attack — which police say was preceded by a confrontation over the victim’s gender — was arrested Tuesday, and charged with assault and battery. Thus far, no federal-hate crime charges have been filed in the Charleston case.
“The difference with the feds getting involved could be a felony,” said Chase Glenn, executive director of the Charleston-based advocacy group Alliance for Full Acceptance.
South Carolina is one of five states that does not have a state hate-crime law. Bills to create a state-level law — which would increase the penalties for crimes motivated by hatred or bias — have been introduced in the past. But none has come close to passing, even after a 2015 racially motivated shooting in a Charleston church that killed nine.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, was a sponsor of a state hate-crime bill earlier this year and plans to reintroduce the bill when lawmakers return to the State House in January.
“It appears we’re in a climate where intolerance and hatred reign, and it’s not getting better,” Cobb-Hunter said.