Oregon overhauls hate crime laws for first time in decades

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon will substantially overhaul its hate crime laws for the first time since the early 1980s.

Gov. Kate Brown signed a measure this week strengthening the definition of bias crimes and adding “gender identity” as a protected class.

The move responds to an uptick in reported hate crimes in the past few years. FBI data shows that hate crimes have increased in Oregon by 40% from 2016 to 2017 while arrests and convictions for those crimes have gone down.

But that data likely underestimates the true number of hate crimes. Many local law enforcement agencies don’t report bias crimes to the FBI or say that none have occurred.

The new law encourages victim-focused responses to allegation of hate crimes and more accurate data collection.