A hate crime ordinance was amended and passed unanimously last Thursday by the City Council of Kansas City. The amended ordinance adds sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes for the first time. This makes the LGBTQ community a protected class in the city of Kansas City.
The City Council of Kansas City repealed Section 1-17 of the original ordinance “to establish a sentence enhancement for certain municipal offenses.”
Some of these enhancements include identifying “the right of every person, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment, and physical harm caused by the activities of individuals and groups,” reads the ordinance.
The Council also identified goals to ensure the Kansas City Police Department has the resources available for the prosecution of hate offenses in the Kansas City Municipal Division of the Circuit Court “so hate-motivated offenses can be better deterred and penalized.” For instance, a penalty of an additional 60 days on top of their original sentence has been edited into the ordinance. The legislation is the City Council’s first break-through legislative action against anti-LGBTQ measures this year.
Ordinance 231032 was unanimously passed by the Kansas City Council!
May this be a clear signal that hate crimes are unacceptable in the City of Kansas City. May this ordinance also be used as a tool for greater accountability in the City of Kansas City, Missouri. pic.twitter.com/mYcOD3NIIc
— LGBTQ Commission of Kansas City (@LGBTQCommission) January 11, 2024
Councilwoman Andrea Bough’s office said the ordinance represents a collective effort from the city of Kansas City “to identify a protection that was lacking” in ordinances, which left city agencies without adequate resources to protect people from “crimes perpetrated against them based solely on who they are.”
“Kansas City has a well-established commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity. We always strive to continue to make Kansas City welcoming to all. That does not end with one ordinance or one act of the body but is a continuing commitment,” Bough told GLAAD in an email statement. “This ordinance will provide additional means for our law enforcement and prosecutors to carry out Kansas City’s message that all are welcome and hate has no place in this city.”
The Kansas City Police Department’s Bias Incident Report reported 24 bias-motivated offenses in 2022 and 23 bias-motivated offenses in 2023, according to the ordinance. This doesn’t account for any unreported hate-motivated crimes.
The LGBTQ+ Commission of Kansas City wrote a letter in August stating that:
“We cannot go the way of other cities and wait for something so horrendous to happen for us to finally move on this issue.
“It’s time for the city of Kansas City to pass a hate crimes ordinance that not only defines a hate crime, but gives prosecutors the tools to enforce municipal law to protect victims of hate crimes. Defining it and enforcing it is the only way we’ll eradicate hate crimes in the Kansas City community.”
Unfortunately, something “horrendous” did happen shortly before the ordinance’s passing. Amber Minor, a 40-year-old Black trans woman, was shot and killed in Raytown, a suburb of Kansas City, on Christmas Eve. Following her death, numerous Kansas City news outlets misgendered and deadnamed Minor originating with the initial police report from the Raytown Police Department. Before the ordinance’s passing, Minor’s murder wouldn’t have had the protections to be classified as a hate crime.
Justice Horn, Chair of the LGBTQ+ Commission of Kansas City and a GLAAD Media Institute Alum, said Minor’s murder comes with other recent crimes against the LGBTQ community.
“Two weeks ago, someone ripped a pride flag off of a business in the City Market. A week ago, someone vandalized a queer owned and operated business in the West Bottoms—and on Christmas Eve, someone senselessly killed a Black Trans woman named Amber Minor. A hate crime ordinance was needed in Kansas City,” Horn told GLAAD in an email.
While most media outlets are misgendering Amber Minor, the Kansas City community is mourning her tragic loss. We are working with local leaders to correct the media narrative, and report on her homicide with the respect it deserves. https://t.co/7FMQAYDn4U
— GLAAD (@glaad) January 2, 2024
Each year the LGBTQ community faces increased lethal hate crimes that result in the murder dozens of transgender people throughout the country. GLAAD and the ADL Center on Extremism documented more than 700 incidents of violence, harassment and vandalism in 2023.
In 2023, the Human Rights Campaign reported at least 31 transgender and gender non-conforming people were killed by violence. 84% were people of color, and 48% were Black trans women. The number is likely an undercount as almost half of the victims were misgendered or deadnamed by authorities or the press.
Kansas City’s hate crime ordinance has been a work in progress.
Back in October, Álvaro Ontiveros Aguilar, an advisor to the city on the LGBTQ Commission of Kansas City and GLAAD Media Institute Alum, told GLAAD that his biggest concern overall for LGBTQ equality in Kansas City and Missouri is having legislative protection for his community.
“I want to express my thanks personally to the KC City Council for working so diligently,” Ontiveros Aguilar said in an email statement to GLAAD. “[A]s an LGBTQ+ Kansas Citian, it’s comforting to know that our city council takes our safety and concerns seriously, particularly leading into an election year that is sure to be tense. We’re seeing legislative agendas that are outright hostile to LGBTQ+ people, particularly here in Missouri so to have allies in our council is very reassuring.”