TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida’s hate crime law could be expanded to create increased penalties for anyone who commits crimes based on their gender or gender identity against someone approved by a Senate committee on Tuesday.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted 5-2 in favor of legislation that would increase crime levels if motivated by these factors. For example, a first degree offense would become a third degree crime and a third degree crime would become a second degree crime.
The bill also expands the definition of disability under current law that protects people from hate crimes. The current law includes disabilities “due to a developmental disorder, organic brain damage or mental illness”. The bill would include any disability that limits a person’s main life activities.
“Hate crimes are rot. They’re a stain on our society, ”said Democratic Senator Lori Berman, sponsor of the law. “This bill is actually more than just a means of increasing the penalties. It is recognized that acts of hatred inspires particular fear throughout the community and that we will not tolerate it here in Florida. “
Current state law provides increased penalties for crimes based on the victim’s race, color, ethnicity, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, and the advanced age of the victim.
Republican Senator Keith Perry said he opposed the bill because he did not believe that a victim of a crime should receive special treatment over another victim of the same crime who was not motivated by hate.
“I have a hard time imagining that we would be committing the same crimes and telling the victims or the victims’ families that we are now going to do more for one victim than for another victim,” Perry said should be an equal among those crimes. “
The bill has two more committee stops before being heard by the entire Senate.
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