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Hate crime law protecting sexual orientation discussed at state House hearing

The state House of Representatives' Democratic Policy Committee convened at the Kimmel Center Thursday for testimony about amending state hate crime laws to include sexual orientation.

Hundreds gather in LOVE Park for Rep. Brian Sims' rally to lobby for a new hate crime law that specifically addresses sexual orientation. Credit: Sam Newhouse Hundreds gather in LOVE Park for Rep. Brian Sims' rally Sept. 25 to lobby for a new hate crime law that specifically addresses sexual orientation. Credit: Sam Newhouse

The state House of Representatives' Democratic Policy Committee convened at the Kimmel Center Thursday for testimony about amending state hate crime laws to include sexual orientation.

This event was prompted by the brutal Sept. 11 beating of a gay couple in Rittenhouse. Three suspects, of Bucks County, have been charged with aggravated assault, but the victims, who are not identifying themselves publicly, say that is not enough.

"Three out of 15 people have had charges filed against them. None of those charges include the word 'hate,'" said a statement by one of the victims, which was read by their friend, Caryn Kunkle.

One of the victims in that attack attended incognito, as Kunkle read his statement, said Rep. Brian Sims, who organized the hearing.

"When you hear words like that, and I applauded, I looked right at him — I was applauding for him," Sims said after the hearing. "They deserve to know that this isn't getting put on the back burner ... I'm focusing on it every day."

The victim also attended a rally in LOVE Park organized by Sims on Sept. 25, he said.

Pennsylvania passed a hate crime law protecting sex crime orientation back in 2002.

The Supreme Court struck down the law on technical grounds.

A bill is currently pending in the house that would reinstate that protection.

 

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