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State-Specific Guide Provides Data and Best Practices to Help States Address Hate Crimes
WASHINGTON– The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – today released a first of its kind guide for states looking to enforce and enact legislative solutions aimed at tackling hate crimes. The guide provides state-specific data on current hate crime laws in every state, identifies where hate crime laws could be stronger and offers feedback about improvements that could be made. It also offers a model hate crime law and steps that victims of hate crimes can take, as well as frequently asked questions on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).
“The passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was a huge victory for our community – but much work remains to be done to reduce hate-motivated crimes, and much of that work falls to the states,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We must do everything we can to educate state officials on the importance of addressing hate crimes and equipping them with the tools they need to successfully prevent and legislate against these types of incidents.”
Hate crimes based on sexual orientation make up the third-highest category of all hate crimes reported annually to the FBI, after race and religion. Unfortunately, data on hate crimes based on gender identity has not been collected by many states and is not collected by the FBI. HRC has been working closely with the FBI to implement a mandate contained in the HCPA that requires the federal government to begin collecting statistics on gender identity hate crimes.
The HCPA allows the federal government to serve as a backstop in dealing with hate crimes. It respects the primary authority that state and local prosecutors and law enforcement have over the enforcement, investigation, and prosecution of hate crimes. However, there is much to be done on the state and local level to ensure that state and local prosecutors and law enforcement have the tools they need to deter and combat hate crimes. Currently, 19 states still lack laws addressing hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and 38 states don’t have any laws addressing hate crimes based on gender identity or expression.
HRC is distributing the guide to hate crime coalition allies, key individuals at the Department of Justice and every state-level equality organization. It also will be distributed at a hate crime presentation during the upcoming Equality Federation Summer Meeting. To assist advocates, law enforcement officials and lawmakers with implementation, HRC will host a webinar on the toolkit on October 28, 2011 at 2:00pm ET – the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the HCPA. Register now.
An electronic copy of the toolkit, A Guide to State-Level Advocacy Following the Enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, is available online. More information about HRC’s work on hate crimes is also available online.
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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