FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2023
PHRC supports Pennsylvania anti-hate legislation
Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) applauds the state House for passing a package of anti-hate crime legislation to update the commonwealth's response to the growing hate violence in Pennsylvania.
"At PHRC, we strongly believe each person has an inherent right to live and be treated with dignity without fear of violence, discrimination, or hate," said PHRC Chair M. Joel Bolstein, esq. "Hate is unacceptable. PHRC supports this package of anti-hate legislation and is proud to continue working with others to eliminate hate in Pennsylvania. No one in Pennsylvania should be subjected to racism, xenophobia, homophobia, religious intolerance, gender inequality, discrimination, or hate."
The package of bills include:
- HB1027- This legislation would amend Pennsylvania's Ethnic Intimidation Statute to ensure protections for victims targeted because of their race, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, intellectual disability, physical or sensory or behavioral or mental health. It also provides victims with a civil cause of action against repeat offenders and people who solicit or aid offenders.
- HB1025- This legislation would require schools and postsecondary institutions to offer online and anonymous hate crime reporting options for students and employees. It will also encourage training for school employees in identifying and addressing hate incidents.
- HB1024: This legislation would provide our law enforcement officials with the tools they need to properly investigate, identify and report hate crimes. They would also receive annual training through consultation with PHRC and the Attorney General.
"This is much needed legislation in Pennsylvania," said PHRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW. "We live in volatile times where hate-related crimes are increasing. No one should be afraid to go to their place of worship, school, or even the grocery store. At PHRC, we support this legislation, and we will continue working with civic and activist organizations to explain the protections currently available to people who may be fearful of coming forward after experiencing hate. We must adopt a zero-tolerance for hate in Pennsylvania and this package of legislation is a step in the right direction. We look forward to seeing what happens next. Hopefully, it will pass the Senate and make its way to Governor Shapiro's desk."
In 2022, PHRC released its third annual "Building Pennsylvania's Beloved Community: No Hate in Our State" report. The report discussed the prevalence of hate crimes in Pennsylvania. In 2020, there were 81 hate crimes investigated in Pennsylvania, that's double the amount from 2019. In 2021, Pennsylvania had the highest incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution of any state in the country.
If you have been the victim of a hate crime, such as assault or property damage, contact your local police department or the Pennsylvania State Police. Pennsylvania has hate crime and ethnic intimidation laws that protect and support victims. PHRC does not charge or investigate hate crimes or criminal offenses. However, PHRC can determine if an act of hate also violated the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. To report an act of discrimination or file a complaint, contact PHRC by calling 717-787-4410. For more information and resources visit www.PHRC.pa.gov