Pa. House passes anti-hate legislation, expanding protections to people targeted for their race, gender identity, disability, and more

Hate crime incidents in Pennsylvania have risen exponentially in the past three years, according to the most recent FBI data.

Listen 1:13
A close-up of the green dome of the Pa. State Capitol.

File photo: Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

From Philly and the Pa. suburbs to South Jersey and Delaware, what would you like WHYY News to cover? Let us know!

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed an anti-hate legislation package on Tuesday that focuses on the recent rise in hate crimes nationwide.

The package contains three bills aimed at educating, training, and implementing processes to protect those who may be targeted for their race, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, and more.

“Hatred takes many forms in this country,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny). “It may start with one identity characteristic but it rarely stops there. The research is clear, intolerance breeds more intolerance, and acts of hatred build on one another.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Hate crime incidents in Pennsylvania have risen exponentially in the past three years, according to the most recent FBI data. The categories that saw the highest rates were race/ethnicity or ancestry, religion, and sexual orientation.

Though Frankel said FBI reports are flawed, he said data trends show that hate crimes have become increasingly violent and severe nationwide. Co-sponsor Rep. Napoleon Nelson (D-Montgomery) underscored the importance of one bill that will have an impact on students.

“Our hope and goal with this work, this package of bills… is to make sure that everyone understands from an eyes-wide-open perspective what’s happening on our campuses and the work we all collectively need to do,” Nelson said.

The package includes the following:

  • HB 1029 provides protections for victims targeted for their race, religion, gender identity or disability.
  • HB 1024 bolsters training for law enforcement to investigate, identify, and report hate crimes.
  • HB1025 provides guidance for post-secondary institutions on reporting hate crimes and adds training for K-12 employees.

At the conclusion of his statement Frankel said:

“Our laws are a reflection of our values. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities living their authentic lives and practicing their faith and culture. That’s not a partisan statement. It’s a statement of Pennsylvania values.”

The legislation now goes to the state Senate, who will vote on whether to pass the bills.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal