As Pride events take place in Missoula this weekend, members of state and local criminal justice and administrative personnel gathered on Friday to discuss how hate crimes in Montana are investigated and handled by law enforcement.
Anti-LGBTQ+ laws swept the nation during the last round of state legislative sessions, but hate against LGBTQ+ individuals in Montana is documented locally, too.
“We haven’t just had national and international incidents grounded in hate,” Montana U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said at the panel, hosted at the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III Law School. “We’ve experienced them right here, in Montana, as there’s been an increase in hateful rhetoric against historically marginalized groups, such as our LGBTQ+ community members.
“With the recently concluded Montana legislative session, new laws have targeted transgender youth and the drag communities.”
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Missoula Rep. Zooey Zephyr, one of Montana’s first transgender lawmakers, was censured in the recent legislative session, and homophobic neo-Nazis showed up to Missoula’s Trans Day of Visibility in March.
Montana Pride President Kevin Hamm asked the panel what they’re doing to address hateful rhetoric from neo-Nazis that show up to Pride events in Montana.