Irondale man says he was attacked for being gay - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Irondale man says he was attacked for being gay

Richie Covington. Source: WBRC video Richie Covington. Source: WBRC video
Covington after his attack. Source: WBRC video Covington after his attack. Source: WBRC video

Editor's note: The content of this story is not appropriate for children as it includes some offensive language. We didn't edit out harsh language because it's key to the story.

It's about an Irondale man who says he was attacked because he's gay. And he hopes that by sharing his story it will encourage lawmakers to draft and approve hate crimes legislation when it comes to sexual orientation.

Right now, the hate crimes on the books in Alabama only cover race, religion, and disabilities. Sexual orientation and gender identity aren't a part of the hate crime laws.

For Richie Covington of Irondale it's a loop hole he didn't learn about until it was too late. Covington never thought his sexual orientation would lead to an attack. He's been open about being gay for over a decade, but since recently moving back to the South he says he's been ridiculed, harassed, and now attacked.

"If they don't like gay people, they don't like transgender people that's your prerogative to have, but when it gets to the point of hurting another person that's where I have a problem with it," said Covington.

On Jan. 5 Covington says he was walking to the store when a man, who mistook Covington for a girl, hollered at him. When the man realized Covington was a man, things got heated.

"He was like, 'Oh my God, you're an f-ing faggot,'" said Covington.

Covington says he usually keeps walking but this night he'd had enough.

"I was like yeah and what of it m-f? And just kept going."

But Covington didn't get far. He says the man attacked him.

It cases like this that have Representative Patricia Todd fighting year after year to change Alabama's hate law, but so far it hasn't happened.

"What I hear from the opposition is they think all victims should be treated equally, but the reality is we already have enhanced penalties for certain victims," said Representative Todd.

And Todd doesn't think the law will change anytime soon.

"Too much opposition with people who do not understand being gay is not something you choose," said Todd.

Covington hopes legislators will hear his story and rethink where they stand.

"If I can bring any good from this awful experience it, I'd go through it all again," said Covington.

There are federal laws for hate crimes. However in order for it to apply it has to be a federal offense. In Covington's case, the federal hate crime law does not protect him.

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