Hamilton: Efforts to protect women, gender identity under hate crimes law rejected by Indiana House GOP

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House Republicans today rejected a proposal from State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) to ensure that a hate crimes law in Indiana protects all Hoosiers.

“I attempted to amend Senate Bill 373 to include sex, gender identity, age and ancestry into the list of attributes that courts would be able to use when sentencing someone who has been found guilty of committing a crime based on the victim’s characteristics,” Hamilton said. “These changes would have provided the same protections contained in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s own personnel policies, as well as the original hate crimes bill filed in the Indiana Senate.

“The current hate crimes proposal (Senate Bill 198) would allow courts to use a list that presently includes color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation as qualifying characteristics, but SB 198 does not include protections for gender identity, sex, age or ancestry,” she added.

“Without this language, SB 198 will not protect women from hate crimes,” Hamilton said. “That means that we will be passing a law that doesn’t protect more than half of all Hoosiers.”

While Gov. Holcomb and others have described SB 198 as a “big step forward” in enacting a hate crimes law in Indiana, the bill actually takes a big step backward by failing to provide protections for women and gender identity.

“The governor has backtracked from some of his initial praise for SB 198, and with good reason,” Hamilton said. “We have five weeks to go before the end of this session, which means there is time to get things right. A hate crimes law that doesn’t protect women or gender identity is not a hate crimes law at all. I will continue to work with the statewide coalition of business, civic, education, and faith-based organizations to see passage of a hate crimes law that protects all Hoosiers.”

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