Anthony Martinez, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. Cassidy Introduces Bill to Include “Gender Identity” in Hate Crime Law
February 9, 2012 • Springfield, IL – The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, is pleased to announce that Representative Kelly Cassidy has filed a bill in the Illinois House of Representatives that would amend the clause defining hate crimes in the Criminal Code of 1961 to include “gender identity, military status and immigration status.” The Civil Rights Agenda authored the bill, and is working with other organizations to ensure passage this year.
"This amendment to the hate crimes bill will create a truly inclusive act that will give law enforcement the tools they need to protect victims who are targeted based on who they are," said Representative Kelly Cassidy.
“This is an extremely important bill for the transgender community, and we are very grateful to Representative Cassidy for sponsoring legislation that will advance transgender rights in Illinois,” stated Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “Transgender individuals face pervasive discrimination in every part of their lives, and we work with an unconscionable number of transgender individuals who have experienced violence simply because they are transgender.
“A report released last July by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAPV) shows that transgender women make up 44 percent of all LGBT murder victims. The study also reported a troubling 13 percent rise in anti-LGBT hate crimes in 2010, and, unfortunately, there is constant violence that goes unreported. Many of the transgender folks who come to us, especially transgender women, say that they don’t feel comfortable reporting an assault because they think they are either going to face police harassment, or they are not going to be seen as a victim but as the person who brought on the attack. The NCAPV study found that over half of survivors did not report the event to the police. Of those who did go to the police, over 60 percent said authorities were “indifferent, abusive or deterrent.” This response was most common among transgender people of color–those most likely to be victim to a crime.”
“As a member organization of the LGBTQ Immigration Coalition, and as an organization that works with many transgender individuals that have experienced crimes motivated by hate and discrimination, as well as an organization that fought for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and is committed to the needs of LGBT service members and veterans, we recognized that hate crime protections in Illinois must be expanded,” said Lowell Jaffe, political and policy director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “The federal Hate Crimes Act includes crimes committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but limitations to federal jurisdiction and State’s rights create strict limitations as to when federal agencies can act on a hate crime here in Illinois. This law will allow our state to prosecute these crimes more effectively.”
“As one of the lead organizers on the passage of the original hate crimes legislation, I remember that at that time we did not advocate for Gender Identity, because that was not even on our radar screen,” Rick Garcia, LGBT activist and Senior Political Advisor to TCRA. “Back then transgender issues were still becoming apparent to the broader gay community. With this amendment we will bring our hate crimes legislation into the current century, and in-line with the federal legislation.
“Also, as an advocate for LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, I am concerned by the uptick in hate crimes motivated by anti-Hispanic bias, which the FBI's annual Hate Crimes statistics showed almost a 67% increase in 2010. That is the highest percentage of such victims in at least the past decade. As a Hispanic man that is a frightening statistic, but as a gay Hispanic man that statistic is terrifying. One thing to understand is that Latinos, and in particular undocumented immigrants, are among the least likely to report hate crimes because they fear deportation.”
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