Tuesday, April 29, 2003

New law addresses
transgender hate crimes

An extension of Hawaii's hate-crimes law to protect transvestites and others whose gender identity might make them a target of abuse has become law without Gov. Linda Lingle's signature.

"To my mind, the most-often-discriminated-against group is the transgendered souls," said Skip Burns, chairperson of the Civil Unions Civil Rights Movement, an organization that lobbied the legislation and was instrumental in getting the hate crimes bill approved in 2001.

The bill sent to Lingle on April 1 amends Hawaii's hate-crimes law to impose longer sentences on convicts who intentionally victimize a person or their property "because of hostility toward the person's actual or perceived gender identity or expression."

Three Senate Republicans and eight House Republicans opposed the measure.

During hearings on the bill, members of Hawaii's transgender community told lawmakers of being intimidated or attacked because of their lifestyle. The original hate-crimes law intends to protect victims of crimes motivated by race, religion, disability, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation by increasing the prison sentence of those convicted of such crimes.


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