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USA Hate Crime Bill

Sat 5 May 2007 In: International News

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill which adds crimes based on sexuality to the federal hate crime law, but yesterday the White House indicated President Bush is set to veto the bill. FBI statistics show that one in six hate crimes is motivated by the victim's sexual orientation. The proposed legislation has the endorsement of 230 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organisations and the support of 73% of the American people. "This is a historic day that moves all Americans closer to safety from the scourge of hate violence," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Today, legislators sided with the 73% of the American people who support the expansion of hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity." "I am personally grateful to the United States House for recognising the grave reality of hate crimes in America," said Judy Shepard, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Each year, thousands of Americans are violently attacked just because they are black, female, Christian, or gay. According to the FBI, 25 Americans each day are victims of hate crimes - that means approximately one hate crime is committed every hour. Specifically, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would strengthen the ability of federal, state and local governments to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, religion, colour, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity. However, a statement from the Executive Office of the President says the new Bill is “unnecessary and constitutionally questionable." The White House statement says state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the crimes defined by the bill and "there has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement." The statement comes on the heels of intense lobbying by social conservatives for Bush to issue a statement condemning the bill.     Ref:, (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Saturday, 5th May 2007 - 12:00pm

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