Farnese and Boyle Renew Call to Include Sexual Orientation Under Hate Crimes Law

Harrisburg, May 6, 2019 − Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.) and Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Phila.) today renewed their fight to put sexual orientation and gender identity back under the protections of Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law.

“While these crimes might have individual victims, their impact is much deeper than that,” Farnese said. “The perpetrators are sending the message that you’re different and you deserve to be treated differently.

“Targeting and intimidating a member because they are part of a group is akin to targeting the entire group.”

Farnese added, “Members of the LGBTQ community are just as vulnerable and just as targeted as any other group specified in the state’s hate crimes law. There is no reason, excuse or justification for excluding them.”

The legislature added sexual orientation and gender identity to the hate crimes law (Ethnic Intimidation Act) in 2002.  The provision was reversed by the state Supreme Court on procedural ground in 2008. Progressive lawmakers have been fighting to put sexual orientation and gender identity back into the hate crimes law ever since.

The legislation (Senate Bill 96 and House Bill 635) would again extend the law’s protections to include ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity.

Boyle and Farnese said the hate crimes law demonstrates society’s commitment to confront and deter criminal acts motivated by prejudice. With the threat of tougher penalties, they also serve as a deterrent.

Both bills are currently under consideration in legislative committees.

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