Pa. House panel approves expanded hate crimes bill

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    A bill broadening Pennsylvania’s hate crime law has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee. 

     

    State Rep. Brendan Boyle’s bill will expand the existing Pennsylvania Hate Crimes Law to include offenses targeting people because of their sexual orientation as well as those with mental or physical disabilities. Boyle, D-Philadelphia, said this law was expanded once before, but was struck down because it was tacked on to a larger piece of unrelated legislation.

    “I truly believe this is not so much gay or straight as for right and wrong. It’s important for us as a commonwealth to stand up to those who commit hate crimes,” Boyle said. “This piece of legislation sends a strong signal and statement about who we are and what we stand for as a state.”

    The recent beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia is just one example of why the law should be expanded, said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery.

    “The other kinds of intimidation that goes on with those who are perceived different in some way from others is so insidious is against what our City of Brotherly Love and what this commonwealth ought to be about,” she said.

    Gov. Tom Corbett has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

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