Sen. Favola bill addressing sexual orientation hate crimes in Courts Committee

gay-equalityToday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee will discuss SB 799  a bill that Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) introduced to address the perpetration of hate crimes against LGBT individuals. SB 799 includes within the definition of “hate crime” a criminal act committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification for purposes of reporting to the state police.

Senator Favola spoke to the importance of enacting SB 799: “Every Virginian should feel welcome and enjoy equal protection under the law. It is critically important to send a message that no one should experience violence or harassment based on gender identification or perceived sexual orientation.”

Attorney General Mark Herring, a strong defender of LGBT rights, worked with Senator Favola to craft and introduce the bill. “No Virginian should be singled out for violence or discrimination because of who they are, whom they love, or where they come from. I am proud to have worked with Sen. Favola to introduce this important measure.”

Background: Sexual orientation alone accounted for 20% of the total number of hate crimes in 2013, according to the latest Hate Crime Statistics report. Half of LGBT respondents to an Equality Virginia survey said they had experienced hate violence or harassment. In the LGBT population, 18% live in states with hate crime laws that do not cover sexual orientation and gender identity – including Virginia.  There are an estimated 183,545 Virginians who identify as LGBT and would be affected by sexual and gender orientation inclusion into hate crime law.

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