A 58-year-old man is accused of shouting homophobic and racial slurs during an attack on a group of Latino men leaving a gay nightclub in Portland, Oregon.
The men passed Robert Oden after leaving CC Slaughters at approximately 2am on Saturday as he was sitting in an alcove of a nearby building.
He allegedly punched three of the men in the face and told them: “Go back to your country.” One of the victims was reportedly left with a bloody, swollen lip and pain.
The arrest makes Oden the first person to be accused of a bias crime under the state’s new law.
Nightclub staff called police and Oden has been charged with one count of bias crime in the first degree, felony assault in the fourth degree, two counts of harassment and two counts of bias crime in the second degree.
Multnomah County District Attorney’s office said this marks the first time this crime has been issued in the state.
Court documents say that he continued to use racial and homophobic language and threatened continued assaults after he was taken into custody.
Bias crime law protects gender identity.
Oregon’s new ‘bias crime law’ came into effect on July 15. It is the most significant update to the state’s hate crime laws since the 1980s.
It added gender identity to the list of protected categories and removed the requirement that two or more people commit the crime in order to make it a felony.
Under this law, it is now a felony to commit a bias crime when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to another person because of the perpetrator’s perception of the victim’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or national origin.
Previously, to be charged as a felony, two or more people would need to commit the offence.