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Philly may extend hate crime protections to LGBT community, those with disabilities

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 Councilman Jim Kenney hopes the Sept. 11, 2014 incident will be a catalyst for Pennsylvania to expand its hate crime law (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Councilman Jim Kenney hopes the Sept. 11, 2014 incident will be a catalyst for Pennsylvania to expand its hate crime law (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Two members of Philadelphia City Council want to make it a hate crime to attack people because of a disability or sexual orientation.

Pennsylvania law covers hate crimes against people because of their race or religion, but not sexual orientation, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said Thursday. So she wants to expand the definition in the city.

“The good news is that society has come to a place where this will not be tolerated,” she said. “And if a measure is not in place,  the role of Council is to put a measure in place that captures and diminishes these hate crimes.”

Councilman Jim Kenney expressed outrage after the beating of two gay men in Center City Sept. 11. Even though this legislation will only add 30 to 60 days to a jail sentence and a $2,000 fine, it would send a message, he said.

“This is Philadelphia, this is not Uganda or Russia. This is Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy,” Kenney said. “If you are a LGBT person and want to walk with your partner down the street, no one should be in a position to question you about it or beat you about the head for doing it.”

Kenney said he hopes the incident will be a catalyst for Pennsylvania to expand its hate crime law.

The three young adults from Bucks County have been charged with beating the couple.

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