Gay rights activist 'burned down home' to fake hate crime, police say

A transgender gay rights activist has been arrested on suspicion of burning down his own residence to make it look like a hate crime.

Police are accusing Nikki Joly of intentionally setting fire to property in 2017 to generate more news about LGBT rights.

Five pets - two German Shepherds and three cats - died in the fire.

The police report states gasoline was found in five rooms of Joly's two-storey, wood-frame house in Jackson, Michigan, according to The Daily Mail.

Joly was charged with one felony count of first-degree arson in October 2018, according to Michigan Live, and was charged with two counts of animal killing the following December. His case is still ongoing.

Investigators say traces of gasoline were also found on the equality campaigner's clothes.

Their attention turned to Joly after discovering he had bought $10 of gas at a local Marathon store on the morning of the fire.

Joly said he had done so to cut the grass, but his version of how he had spent the day allowed for only a five-minute window for an arsonist to break into his home, cover it in fuel and set it ablaze.

It is understood he has refused to confirm or deny setting the blaze at the rented home while speaking with police in an interview.

The case appears to be similar to that of Empire star Jussie Smollett, who is also alleged to have faked a hate crime.

A spokesperson for the Chicago police made the allegations after the actor was arrested, saying he was dissatisfied with his salary.

Smollett - who is openly gay - told Chicago authorities he was attacked on January 29 by two white men "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs".

The 36-year-old claimed an unknown chemical was poured on him and a rope was tied around his neck, and that the men yelled "this is MAGA country" as they fled the scene.

Two Nigerian men were arrested in connection with the attack and held for 48 hours before being released. Police said they provided information that changed the focus of the investigation.

The actor could be sentenced to up to three years in prison and being forced to pay the cost of the investigation into his original report.

He still denies the charges.

Newshub.