Matthew Shepard; Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention ActPost submitted by Adam Bradley, HRC Communications Intern

October 28 is a landmark day in human rights history: on this day four years ago, President Barack Obama signed into law the  Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

Passed after more than a decade of advocacy by HRC and other civil rights organizations, the HCPA provides federal protections against crimes of violence where a perpetrator has selected a victim because of the person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

The bill’s title honors the memory of two prominent victims of hate crimes, Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was tortured and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, and James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas.

In the fifteen years since Matthew’s death, HRC has worked tirelessly to ensure that LGBT individuals can live safely in their own communities. We are reminded every day, however, of the work that remains in the fight to end bigotry and hate.

Passage of the HCPA sends an important message that the federal government will not tolerate crimes that target individuals because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics.

It does not, however, end the need for state and local lawmakers to address the hate-motivated crimes that still affect communities across the country. Learn more about your state’s hate crimes legislation here.

Don't miss a post

Sign up for RSS feeds

Have a news tip?

Share it with us

Community discussion

Read the guidelines