The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) responded to the enactment of HB 426, which prohibits bias-motivated crimes based on certain enumerated characteristics, and the passage of HB 838, which would prevent police accountability and add law enforcement as a protected class under state law.
“Georgia is one of a small handful of states in this country that lacked a statewide hate crimes law, making the passage of HB 426 a step forward for some victims of bias-motivated crimes. However, this law does not contain explicit protections for people who are the victims of violence based on their gender identity, which is unacceptable,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “As our nation grapples with an epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets Black transgender women, these protections must be a priority, and the best way to ensure that they will be treated as a priority is to ensure they’re explicitly reflected in the statutory language. We are disappointed that HB 426 does not do so. It is our demand and our expectation that the law will be enforced consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, which confirmed that sex-based protections are inclusive of (and inseparable from) protections on the basis of gender identity.
“Lastly, it is deeply disturbing and shocking that lawmakers in Georgia have concurrently passed legislation that would make law enforcement a protected characteristic under state hate crimes law,” David continued. “Equating police officers' employment status with the discrimination and violence that Black people, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, women and other historically marginalized communities continue to face is blatantly offensive and threatens the safety and liberties of the people that first responders are sworn to protect. Moreover, law enforcement officials already receive heightened protection under existing state law. This legislation makes a mockery of the discrimination faced by the most targeted communities in Georgia and severely misunderstands the injustices we are facing as a nation at this very moment. In Georgia, and around the country, we will hold leaders accountable at the ballot box for pushing bad policy instead of needed reforms.”