The Indiana Senate passed legislation that would create the state’s first hate crimes law to address bias crimes against “perceived or actual race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry or sexual orientation.” Indiana is just one of five states that doesn’t currently have a hate crimes law.
Many observers see this bill, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, as a positive response to the state’s controversial approval of a “religious liberty” bill last year. But, unfortunately, it appears the hate crimes law won’t be addressed this year by the key House committee. Unless it’s added as an amendment to another bill being considered, Indiana will remain in the vast minority of states without any form of hate crimes legislation.
Aside from the claim that the panel “doesn’t have enough time” this time around and the adoption of a hate crimes law wouldn’t be “substantive” enough, other run-of-the-mill, misinformed opposition to hate crimes laws is being thrown around. Fortunately, we’ve outlined and disproved the most common myths used against hate crimes laws to help dispel these dangerously ignorant arguments.
Not taking the time to hear arguments for the need for hate crimes law, and ultimately passing them, is just creating more bureaucratic work down the road. Bias crimes are easier to report, investigate and prosecute when groups and biases are clearly identified. State police say most years there are 45 to 55 hate crime cases in the state. The continued delay by Indiana legislators is irresponsible at best and blatantly discriminatory at worst. The precedent for discrimination was set with the passage of the Religious Freedom from Restoration Act in 2015, and there’s little evidence to show Indiana’s government has since become serious about protecting all citizens equally.