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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2016 10:24 AM
From: Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr. and Sen. Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Reenacting Pennsylvania's Hate Crimes Statute
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation to reenact Pennsylvania's Hate Crimes Statute.

Act 143 of 2002 extended hate crimes protections under the ethnic intimidation clause of Title 18, Chapter 27 (Assault) to the classes of ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. It also clarified that all groups under the act were protected from offenses committed for actual or perceived associations. However, in 2008, Act 143 of 2002 was declared unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on procedural grounds. See Marcavage v. Rendell, 936 A.2d 188, 191 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2007), aff'd, 597 Pa. 371, 951 A.2d 345 (2008).

It has been almost a decade since that decision and these important updates to Pennsylvania’s Hate Crimes statute have yet to be reenacted. Currently, race, color, religion or national origin are protected classes under the hate crimes statute. Our legislation would reenact Act 143 of 2002 and again extend these protections to include ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity.

Hate crime laws demonstrate a society’s commitment to confront and deter criminal acts motivated by prejudice. Since Act 143 of 2002 was declared unconstitutional, too many Pennsylvanians have been the victims of hate crimes, including the two young gay men who were brutally attacked by a group of men and women in Center City Philadelphia in 2014. These men and others have not been able to seek a sentencing enhancement, despite the egregious nature of their attacks.

Please join us in reenacting Pennsylvania's hate crimes statute so we can protect all our citizens from crimes of hate and bias.

Introduced as SB96