Two Philadelphia councilors have introduced a bill that will cover sexual orientation in the city’s hate crime laws.
The legislation is a response to the 11 September attack of two gay men. While three suspects are facing four charges each, sexual orientation and gender expression are not listed n the city’s, or state’s, bias statutes.
As reported by Philly.com, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown and Councilman Jim Kenney presented the ordinance on 25 September. The change will include higher penalties for crimes against victims based on ‘perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or disability.’
If approved, law breakers would face 90 additional days of jail time and a $2,000 (€1,600) fine.
‘Philadelphia is known all over the world as a city that celebrates and values diversity and we will not allow a few thugs to tarnish that reputation,’ Brown said in a statement, according to Philly.com
‘Until the Commonwealth comes to its senses and treats these offenses as the hate crimes they are, Philadelphia City Council must do all it can to protect our citizens,’ Kenney said, as reported by Philly.com.
The lack of hate crime protection has been debated since the early September assault. Two gay men, in their late 20s, were approached by a group of 10-12 men and women.
‘Is this your fucking boyfriend,’ someone in the group asked.
The gay men were taken to hospital after the suspects allegedly punched the couple in the face, head, and chest.
One victim sustained facial injuries, including an orbital fracture and wired jaw.
After an investigation, with help from a nameless Twitter user, the suspects were charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person.