Alabama House Committee Advances LGBT-Inclusive Hate Crimes Legislation

by Ianthe Metzger

MONTGOMERY, AL - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Alabama hailed the Alabama House Judiciary Committee’s 7-5 vote to advance H.B. 413 -- commonsense legislation that would add to the state’s hate crimes statute critical new protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Juandalynn Givan and Patricia Todd, now heads to the full Alabama House for consideration.

“Hate-motivated crimes are vicious, brutal acts that not only cause extraordinary harm to victims and their families, but also instill fear in the entire community that is targeted,” said Eva Walton Kendrick, HRC Alabama State Manager. “All Alabamians should have the opportunity to live their lives free from fear and discrimination, and passing this legislation would be a deeply significant step forward for the state. We thank Reps. Givan and Todd for their leadership on this issue, and urge the Alabama Legislature to continue this momentum by passing H.B. 413.”

Rep. Givan, who also introduced a same-sex marriage recognition bill this session, boldly reintroduced H.B. 413 today after it was voted down by a voice vote last week.

In 1994, the Alabama legislature passed a hate crimes law mandating  harsher sentences for perpetrators who commit crimes motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, and physical and mental health. H.B. 413 extends those same penalties to crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

Alabama is one of 20 states that do not have hate crimes laws explicitly protecting sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today’s pro-equality vote comes as the Alabama State Legislature is considering two harmful anti-LGBT bills that would allow state-licensed adoption and foster-care agencies to disregard the best interest of children and prioritize religious-based discrimination. An agency could turn away qualified LGBT couples; interfaith couples; single parents; married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced; or any other parent seeking to care for a child in need to whom the agency has a religious objection. Chief executives of major child advocacy organizations have come out strongly against this type of legislation in a letter hand-delivered to state lawmakers.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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