Equality Florida Celebrates Passage of Hate Crimes Law Expansion Through Senate Criminal Justice Committee

For Immediate Release: February 16, 2021


Equality Florida Celebrates Passage of Hate Crimes Law Expansion Through Senate Criminal Justice Committee


TALLAHASSEE, FL - This morning the Senate Criminal Justice Committee passed an expansion of Florida’s hate crimes statute by a 5-2 vote. The bill, Crimes Evidencing Prejudice, filed by Representative Joe Geller (sponsor HB 43) and Senator Lori Berman (sponsor SB 194) now advances to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Brandes, who voted in support of the bill this morning, for a second hearing.


“The LGBTQ community is all too familiar with hate violence. The murder of Matthew Shepard, the massacre at Pulse Nightclub, and the continued rise of deadly violence against Black transgender women in Florida are reminders of why this legislation is so needed” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida Public Policy Director. “We applaud this move by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and call on lawmakers to support victims of hate violence and give them the access to justice they deserve.”


Currently, Florida’s hate crimes law has devastating gaps. Its limited definition of “disability” and exclusion of gender and gender identity leave marginalized Floridians vulnerable to hate violence and deny victims access to the resources and support they need to seek justice. The proposed legislation expands the hate crimes statute to close these loopholes and ensure that Florida’s law matches the strength of federal legislation - much needed changes to protect those who need it most.

Rising violence against LGBTQ people across the country is an alarming reminder of the danger faced by the community every day. In fact, 2020 marked the deadliest year on record for transgender people in America, with over 40 trans and nonbinary people murdered over the course of the year. Expanding hate crimes law in Florida will allow the justice system to respond to this escalating violence with the urgency and seriousness it requires.


Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.




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