Indiana is home to the Central Office and is one of only five states without a hate crime law, despite versions being introduced in the Statehouse over the years. Republican Governor Eric Holcomb has said hate crime legislation is “not only the right thing to do; it’s long overdue.”
ACUI agrees and last week urged state legislators to craft a sensible hate crime law. In late February the Senate passed Bill 12 despite late amendments that removed protected classes from the legislation. Now that the bill is going to the House, ACUI leaders want to be sure the law extends hate crime protections to individuals based on specific characteristics.
According to a recent Report on the Uncivil, Hate, and Bias Incidents on Campus Survey, 77% of campuses experienced an uncivil, hate, or bias-motivated incident in the last 24 months, and the most serious hate crimes accounted for nearly one in five of such incidents. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that most hate crimes are motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, or sexual orientation, and crime numbers are increasing. In addition, a significant number of offenses have occurred against individuals because of their gender identity, disability, or gender.
The original Senate bill sought to protect these classes and also included age. ACUI leaders called for these classes to be incorporated and passed as part of House Bill 1093.
“As we have seen with other discriminatory laws, it is important to be explicit with statutory protections at the local, state, and federal levels,” said ACUI Chief Executive Officer John Taylor and President Mike Coleman. “An ‘all means all’ approach ignores the fact that hate crimes are intentionally carried out against individuals because of otherwise protected characteristics.”
Taylor and Coleman expressed their concern that the stripped-down version of pending legislation now contains vague language that has been declared unconstitutional in other states. They wrote: “House Speaker Brian Bosma’s hope to get Indiana “off the list without a list” does not provide a middle ground; it fails to communicate Indiana as a safe place for marginalized communities. We urge you to revise the legislation and vote for an enforceable law that deters and seeks justice for hate-motivated crimes.”
ACUI will continue to monitor the bill as it moves through the legislature.