Hate Crime Bill Passes Philly City Council

The Philadelphia City Council has unanimously passed the Hate Crime Bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Councilman Jim Kenney, which provides for additional penalties for criminal conduct motivated by hatred regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities.

“Philadelphia is known all over the world as a city that celebrates and values diversity and we will not allow a few thugs to tarnish that reputation,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. “It is shameful that this legislation is necessary in 2014, but as Councilman Kenney and I have demonstrated in the past, we are proud to do it.”

The bill is in response to the September 11, 2014 assault of a same-sex couple in Center City, where the assailants allegedly hurled anti-gay slurs. The District Attorney could not prosecute the attack as a hate crime because no such protections currently exist.

The state of Pennsylvania does not include sexual orientation in its hate crime law, though a petition to the governor of Pennsylvania to change that has more than 75,000 signature.

“Until the Commonwealth comes to its senses and treats these offenses as the hate crimes they are, Philadelphia City Council must do all it can to protect our citizens,” said Councilman Jim Kenney.

The bill defines a hate crime as follows:

CHAPTER 10-2200. HATE CRIMES.
§ 10-2201. Definitions.

(1) Hate crime. Commission of an offense under Title 18, Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide), Chapter 27 (relating to assault), Chapter 29 (relating to kidnapping), Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses), Chapter 33 (relating to arson, criminal mischief and other property destruction), or Section 3503 (relating to criminal trespass) of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, against an individual or group of individuals or the property of an individual or group, accompanied by malicious intent as defined in subsection (2) hereof.

(2) Malicious intent. The intent to commit any act, the commission of which is a necessary element of any offense referred to in subsection (1) above, motivated by hatred toward the actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or disability, as such terms are defined by § 9-1102 of this Code, of another individual or group of individuals.
§ 10-2202. Prohibited Conduct.

(1) No person shall commit a hate crime against another individual or group of individuals.
§ 10-2203. Penalties.

(1) Violation of this Chapter is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to ninety (90) days, and a monetary fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000).

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