PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 23, 2014 – State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), members of the Pennsylvania legislature’s Equality Caucus, Equality PA and advocates today urged the immediate adoption of legislation that would expand the commonwealth’s hate crime protections to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

While longtime proponents of equal protection for all Pennsylvania residents, Sen. Farnese said the recent attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia underscores the need for strengthening the existing law.

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“The attack on this couple was nothing short of disgusting and wrong, and I hope our work today in Harrisburg and in our communities sends a clear message that there is no place for hate in Pennsylvania,” said Farnese. “I’m proud that so many members of the Senate and House, LGBT advocates and champions of equality from all over the state came together today to support legislation now before us.”

Senate Bill 42, by Sen. Jim Ferlo, (D-Allegheny), and its companion legislation, House Bill 177, by Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), would extend Title 18 language under the ethnic intimidation clause of Chapter 27 to include ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

“The despicable tragedy in Philadelphia shines a sad light on the lack of an LGBT-inclusion hate crime law in Pennsylvania. We need to pass legislation now so that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that a hate crime based on someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression will not be tolerated in Pennsylvania,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) and LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chairman.

“A society that needs this legislation is not a society we should be proud of,” said State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chairman. “Enactment of this legislation will not be cause for celebration, but a signal of the work left undone. We must create a community that ensures the safety of all of our friends, families and neighbors.”

“Hate crimes can often be far more violent than typical crimes with the intent to dehumanize the victims. By grading these offenses more strictly I hope that we can further discourage crimes based on hate. I have introduced legislation to reenact Act 143 of 2002 since 2007, and I am hopeful that we can make this necessary progress before the end of the legislative session,” said Sen. Jim Ferlo.

“Make no mistake; the beatings that occurred downtown were hate crimes. We cannot and will not stand idly by while intolerance and hate are permitted by our Commonwealth.  We must pass House Bill 177 and expand our hate crimes law to ensure that all Pennsylvanians are afforded dignity, peace, and security – regardless of race, sex, creed, or sexual orientation. As long hatred remains, and the threat of harm comes to any member of our greater community, we have work to do,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Phila.).

“It’s important to remember that this should be easy to pass. This has already passed the legislature before and become law, and the state Supreme Court only struck the old law on a technicality, not on the merits. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar law more than 20 years ago — in a unanimous opinion written by a conservative chief justice. Fixing this appalling gap in Pennsylvania’s laws should be simple,” said Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila.), who served as a civil rights attorney before he was elected to the legislature.

“Hate crimes are more damaging to a community because they are intended to intimidate and harm an entire group, not just an individual. We need hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity in Pennsylvania because the LGBT community is clearly being targeted, and we need to know that the people we elect to represent us in Harrisburg will not tolerate that kind of hate,” said Ted Martin, executive director, Equality PA.

Farnese sent a letter last week to Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Bucks), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging his panel’s speedy passage of SB 42 in light of the hateful Sept. 11 attack.

HB 177 is pending consideration in Rep. Ron Marsico’s (R-Dauphin) House Judiciary Committee.

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Sen. Larry Farnese was elected to the Senate in 2008 to represent Pennsylvania’s First Senatorial District which contains some of Philadelphia’s most unique and vibrant neighborhoods from Port Richmond on the Delaware River to Fairmount Park on the Schuylkill River and South Philadelphia, Center City, the Navy Yard, Philadelphia International Airport. Senator Farnese serves as the Democratic Chair of the Communications and Technology Committee.  He is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, Banking and Insurance Committee, and the Judiciary Committee. His District Office is located at 1802 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA (ph: 215-952-3121) and his Harrisburg Office is located at 543 Main Capitol in Harrisburg, PA (ph: 717-787-5662).  More information about the Senator and his initiatives is available at www.senatorfarnese.com.

 

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