Arkansas lawmakers accused of distracting from anti-LGBTQ laws with “sham” hate crime protections bill

Arkansas Village.  Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Village. Asa Hutchinson – Photo: Facebook

Arkansas lawmakers have approved the government and As. Hutchinson has sent a bill to the desk, which increases defense against hate crimes for vulnerable groups, but critics say it is a “sham” designed to criticize Republicans’ support, which many others Supports for LGBTQ bills were signed into law.

On Monday, Arkansas House approved SB 622, which recommends specific penalties for violent crimes targeting group members, meaning anyone Historical groups, not just historically marginalized communities. Under the measure, offenders must have at least 80% of their sentence for “severe” violent felony motivated by the victim’s membership in a group that is “of mental, physical, biological, cultural, political or religious belief or Characteristics “.

Supporters of the bill say that this will allow prosecutors to punish criminals severely for violent felony. But disregarders say the lack of a bill is unclear as to who should be protected, and ignores instances of simple attacks, harassment, or vandalism that constitute the majority of prejudice-offenses. A similar bill with stronger penalties for a wider set of such offenses, and more prevalent sections was put on hold this season.

A former federal prosecutor, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), previously urged lawgivers to pass a hate crime law, noting that Arkansas is among only a handful of states without existing hate crime laws.

Hutchinson recently pointed to his support for increasing punishment for bias-inducing crimes, when he accused the bill of promoting anti-LGBTQ biotry, which he signed into law, such as a bill for transgender athletes Prohibiting women from competing in sports based on their gender identity, and granting another. More and more levies by physicians for refusing to provide certain types of treatment for patients if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

But conservative republics in the legislature have emphasized the possibility of enumerated classes, claiming that they are unnecessary, or have opposed specific protections for members of the LGBTQ community, arguing that such protection is the freedom to speak. And pose a threat to people’s religious freedom who oppose homosexuality or transgenderism or consider it immoral.

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The Anti-Defamation League has blasted the bill as a “pretense”, noting that it should not be considered a hate crime bill, given what kind of crimes it applies to, and about Its ambiguity that can be considered a victim. Of hate crime.

“Hate crime messages are crimes that target individuals due to irreversible characteristics that they should not be forced to or should not be changed and are shared by members of their community. Not only are these crimes targeted to those individuals Do for whom they are, rather they terrorize entire communities that share that identity, “said the ADL Statement. “Inductive characteristics do not mean being part of an ‘identifiable and identifiable group’. It refers to particular categories of people who have been historically targeted for violence and discrimination.”

“Any lawful hate crime law must be a ‘name of hate’ by enumerating the immutable characteristics of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. But throughout the process, SB 622’s advocates Inclusion is strongly opposed. “Instead of protecting unprotected Arkansas, the bill sends unmistakable messages that Arkansas is traditionally indifferent to targeted by the hatred, fear, and violence.”

Critics have also stated that a provision of the bill is likely to scare victims of Class D felony making false reporting of hate crimes, especially in light of the bill’s ambiguous language. For example, if a gay person is beaten up because of their sexual orientation, and they want to report a crime, some may fear that, in practice, the lack of clear protection for sexual orientation by law enforcement Can be interpreted as “false reporting,”. “The victim was put on trial for violation of law.

Protesters rallied outside the Arkansas State House to protest against the anti-transgender bill. – Photo: Sydney Rasch / ACLU of Arkansas.

The ADL rejected claims by Hutchinson and some other lawmakers that the bill, despite its myriad problems, is necessary to attract the talents and business of the state, the recent actions of legislators – including two bills signed by Hutchinson and more recently Including the repeal of the veto bill. Criminals criminalize doctors to prescribe gender-affirming treatment to relocate youth – by undermining any attempt to portray Arkansas as a welcome state.

The ADL said that in the context of the creation of three broad anti-discrimination LGBTQ + bills in the context of the majority, the anticipated passage of SB 622 would be seen as a disgusting box-checking exercise at the national level to protect victims of hate Is devoid of any real effort or concern. in a statement. “These anti-LGBTQ + legislation coupled with the passage of SB 622, which will play into the worst stereotypes about Arkansas as they send the message that the state is intolerant and does not embrace diversity. Ultimately, this message is about investment and Will scare away the ‘talent’ that Arkansa needs.

The bill is not far-fetched, with the Orthodox Family Council also condemning the bill for being vague and worrying that the law would infringe on personal liberty. But House Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R-L-Dorado) argued before passing that the bill was “comprehensive” and “substantial” because it protects any potential group that might be targeted for violence.

However, Democratic lawmakers were skeptical.

“I know you’re going to vote for it because it makes You Looks good, “State Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock), who is black, told her colleagues last week according to the floor, The washington post. But “the dose of the drug, as far as I’m concerned, is insufficient,” she said.

But State Sen. Jim Hendron (I-Gravette), a former Republican who sponsored the more widespread hate crime bills in the committee, said that while he has merit about the current bill, it would be easy to come back in the future and from scratch. Instead of starting, amend an existing law.

Similar bills in other Republican-led states without hate-spreading crimes have faced similar debates over protections. The South Carolina House recently approved a bill for hate crimes with lawmakers, including lawmakers Snatching security for the LGBTQ community Last month before unnecessarily adding security measures that came back in the previous week. Meanwhile, in Wyoming, a proposed hate crime bill was introduced and a vote was not given.

Hutchinson is expected to sign the bill into law, but already with his fellow Republicans, having been blasted, advocates for equality tried to convince business leaders that they would rather compare to the LGBTQ community Are less hostile.

“Arkansas legislators are trying to pass a fraudulent bill in LGBTQ and especially in the anti-transgender legislative session, which does nothing to protect LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities for hate crimes,” Alfonso David, President of. The Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

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“In an act of deep and painful irony, some legislators claim that this bill protects LGBTQ people, the same people who target these legislators by passing a bill to harm them,” David said. “The truth is that this bill cannot even be called a hate crime prevention law. It fails to protect historically targeted communities based on their immutable characteristics and includes provisions to attack the dignity of LGBTQ people Are included.

“The only legislation that could have made for an unprecedented slate of harmful bills would be the complete repeal of these bills and real, fully inclusive hate crime protections in this session,” he said. “Instead, Arkansas is trying to enact law against LGBTQ people and create admirable negativity to target transgender children, who are among the most vulnerable in the state.” They need support, not relentless and valuable legislative attacks, to solve real problems in Arkansas. “

Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, a young man killed in an anti-gay attack in Wyoming in 1998, after whom a federal hate crime law has been named, calls the Arkansas bill “an insult to the very idea of ​​the law of hate crimes.” It is said. “Shepard, the founder and board chair of an organization named in honor of his late son, said the bill would not detest” crimes “simply by providing no real punishment for criminals.

“Arkansas legislators are creating a dangerous and unwanted environment for LGBTQ people and specifically targeting transgender children,” Sheppard said in a statement. “Families should never have to fear for the safety of their LGBTQ loved ones, but passing this bill would support that fear and be a warning sign for so many families in Arkansas against protecting their families Call it home. This type of law is reprehensible, because it serves more as an excuse than a solution to the widespread problem of LGBTQ hatred. “

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