HARRISBURG – January 22, 2015 – Pennsylvanians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered would be protected under the state’s hate crimes law if a bill that Sen. Larry Farnese has reintroduced becomes law.

Senate Bill 96 looks to re-enact Title 18 language that would extend the definition of a hate crime to extend protection under the ethnic intimidation clause if discrimination is because of someone’s “ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.” A previous law to this effect was overturned by the courts due to the way it was adopted, not because of its substance.

The law currently defines ethnic intimidation as “malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin of another individual.”

“I am reintroducing this proposal because Pennsylvanians still need this protection,” Farnese said. “Our friends, relatives and neighbors who are part of the LGBT community, as well as those who suffer mental and physical disabilities, deserve the same protections against violent assaults that currently protect the rest of Pennsylvanians.

“Not extending protection under the ethnic intimidation clause will continue to be an injustice because we are deciding that it’s okay to target individuals for harm based on nothing but perceptions or negative biases,” he said.

Farnese co-sponsored legislation during the 2013-2014 legislative session that would have amended the current hate crimes statute to include malicious acts against individuals or groups of individuals based on “actual or perceived” identification.

SB 42 was sponsored by Jim Ferlo, who has since retired from the Pennsylvania Senate. He introduced similar proposals as early as 2007.

Sen. Anthony H. Williams has joined Farnese in serving as SB 96’s co-prime sponsors.

“No Pennsylvanian should fear for their safety because hatred against them isn’t protected in our commonwealth,” Sen. Farnese said. “We must change the state’s hate crimes law to make sure people who feel the need to target Pennsylvanians based on their identity experience the full weight of Pennsylvania law.”

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