An gay man in Irondale, Alabama, was physically assaulted after his assailant mistook him for a woman.
On January 5, Richie Covington was walking to the store when a man gave him a catcall. When the stranger realized Covington was a man, things turned ugly.
“He was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re a fucking faggot,’” said Covington, who admits he usually ignores such taunts. “I was like ‘Yeah and what of it, motherfucker?’ And I just kept going.”
That’s when the man attacked Covington, leaving him with a black eye and swollen nose. Covington says he’s faced ridicule, harassment and violence since returning to the South. “If they don’t like gay people, they don’t like transgender people, that’s their prerogative,” he says. “but when it gets to the point of hurting another person that’s where I have a problem with it.”
It’s not clear if police have located the assailant. In any case, Alabama’s hate-crime laws don’t include protections for the LGBT community. Progressive lawmakers have been working to amend the statute, but getting sexual orientation or gender expression added to existing hate-crime laws is an uphill battle. “[There’s] too much opposition with people who do not understand being gay is not something you choose,” says Rep. Patricia Todd.
Because the attack was not a federal offense, federal hate-crime laws like the Matthew Shepard Act do not apply.