The senseless killing of Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming college student, on October 12, 1998 has spawned renewed interest in hate crimes. The media have discussed the Shepard case and hate crimes in general. But the hate crimes statutes in the 41 states which have them are not uniform. Some differ significantly from others. Many do not include crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation, advanced age or physical disability. Therefore, the author has thought it might be well to consider the terms of the Colorado statute to permit a clearer understanding.
Hate crimes may be defined as crimes motivated by religious, ethnic, racial, sexual orientation or disability prejudice.
THE COLORADO STATUTE
The Colorado statute, enacted July 1, 1988, is called ethnic intimidation. The intent  of the Colorado legislature in enacting the statute was to recognize the right of every person, regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion or national origin, to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and physical harm caused by the activities of individuals and groups.
The legislature also found that advocacy of unlawful acts against persons or groups because of their race, color or ancestry, religion or national origin for the purpose of inciting and provoking bodily injury or damage to property posed a threat to public order and safety and should be subject to criminal sanctions.