In a significant ruling that could make it easier to file sexual assault lawsuits in New York City, an appeals court ruled this week that a city law prohibiting “animus based on the victim’s gender” can apply to any accusation of forced sex. A four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled unanimously on Thursday that plaintiffs can use the law to pursue sexual assault claims even if there is no other evidence that the defendant has shown hatred of the victim’s gender.