This week, we mark the 17th anniversary of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard.

Matthew was brutally attacked in Laramie, Wyoming, in an anti-gay hate crime on October 6, 1998. He died from his injuries six days later.           

Following his death, his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, persistently fought for a federal hate crimes law. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) was signed into law in 2009. 

While the HCPA was signed into law, there is more to do to protect the LGBT community.  State lawmakers must address hate-motivated crimes that terrorize communities in every state and consider ways to use state laws to supplement the HCPA. 

Currently, 15 states have laws that addresses hate or bias crimes based, but do not address sexual orientation or gender identity. Only five states (Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming) don’t have laws addressing the scourge of hate crimes.

Learn more about hate crimes and the laws in your state.

Judy Shepard has served on the HRC Board of Directors since 2001 and has appeared at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference. Read a recent op-ed from Shepard and HRC President Chad Griffin on the epidemic of the violence against transgender women here.

Filed under: Hate Crimes, Community

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