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Philly City Council Unanimously Approves LGBT Hate Crimes Bill

The Philadelphia City Council has unanimously approved a measure that would provide additional penalties for crimes motivated by hatred regarding sexual orientation, gender identity or disabilities, The Inquirer reports:

Reynolds-brownThe measure approved Thursday, expected to be signed into law by Mayor Nutter, calls for up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for crimes committed against a person because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

A similar bill was introduced at the state level last month, but it has stalled. The state's current hate-crime law applies only to attacks based on gender, religion, or ethnicity - not sexual orientation.

Passage of the city measure was hailed by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, a co-sponsor of the bill.

"My heart hurts for all people who are targeted because of who they are," she said in a statement. "If you think it is appropriate to hurt someone with hate in your heart, there will be a price to pay."

December court date has been set for the three suspects charged in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in Center City, Philly that catalyzed these efforts to amend the state and local hate crimes laws. 


LGBT Hate Crimes Bill Advances in Philly As Statewide Bill Stalls in Harrisburg

Mixed news out of Pennsylvania this week as the city of Philadelphia moved forward with a bill adding LGBT protections to hate crimes laws while a similar, statewide bill stalled in committee at the capitol in Harrisburg. 

Philadelphia Gay News reports:

BrownThe Public Safety Committee of Philadelphia City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed Bill 140720, which adds a new chapter to the Philadelphia Code to provide for additional penalties for criminal conduct motivated by hatred regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities.

The bill, sponsored by Councilmembers Blondell Reynolds-Brown and Jim Kenney, was scheduled to receive a first reading before the full Council on Thursday. Then, the public will be given a week to submit comments before a second reading will occur and a final vote can be taken.

Given that the bill passed from the committee with a favorable recommendation, Reynolds-Brown said she was optimistic her colleagues will approve the legislation.

“I feel positive it will pass in every way — absolutely,” she said. “The state has run into a brick wall. Given the testimony we have heard today, and the very insightful questions that were raised, I am confident that it will move to the mayor’s desk and become law.”

In Harrisburg, meanwhile, legislators failed to bring Rep. Brendan Boyle's bill up for a last minute House vote this week. PGN reports only once scheduled session day remains (November 12) and it not been announced yet if lawmakers will even meet that day. 

A December court date has been set for the three suspects charged in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in Center City, Philly that catalyzed these efforts to amend the state and local hate crimes laws. 


Rosie O'Donnell Speaks with Twitter Sleuth Who Helped Identify Suspects in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO

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Twitter user @FanSince09, who played an instrumental role in identifying the suspects in the September 11 gay bashing in Center City, Philadelphia, appeared on The View to share why (and how) he decided to put his social media skills to work and help solve a crime. 

Said @FanSince09, who chose to keep his identity anonymous:

"I did maybe about 45 minutes of work, but with crowd sourcing, we got at least three people identified within two hours"

Find out how, AFTER THE JUMP...

Last Monday, a bill that would amend Pennsylvania's hate crimes statues to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity passed the House Judiciary Committee 19-4.

Continue reading "Rosie O'Donnell Speaks with Twitter Sleuth Who Helped Identify Suspects in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO " »


Philly Gay Bash Victims Speak Out For the First Time Since Attack: VIDEO

Rally

At a "Love Over Hate" rally at the Bucks County Courthouse Wednesday, the two men brutally attacked during last month's gay bashing in Center City, Philadelphia spoke out for the first time via a statement read by organizers, The Intelligencer reports:

“Everyone keeps saying that they are sorry this happened to us. But the truth is, we’re sorry. We feel sorry for our attackers — people who believed it was OK, cool, maybe even funny, to use two innocent individuals as their punching bags and not even have the decency to apologize. Words are powerful. A simple, I’m sorry, would’ve went a long way with us ...

“You butchered my boyfriend’s beautiful face. You violated our rights. You jeopardized our health and safety in a city that we love and during a time where so much progress around human rights has been made. ... We are also determined to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else again.”

The men said they haven’t released their identity because the story is not about them, but everyone who lives in fear. They called for passage of a hate crime bill in Pennsylvania. “It stops here. It stops today. It stops now.”

SuspectsKevin Harrigan, Kathryn Knott, and Philip Williams, the three Bucks County residents charged in the anti-gay assault, will face preliminary hearings in court December 16. 

Said Caryn Kunkle, a friend of the gay couple [pictured speaking above]:

We really want change in Bucks County. We want to be known as a place for equality and togetherness.

Check out video from the rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

Earlier today, we reported on the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee's meeting yesterday on amending the state's hate crimes statutes to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

[photo via Facebook]

Continue reading "Philly Gay Bash Victims Speak Out For the First Time Since Attack: VIDEO" »


Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee Holds Hearing on LGBT Hate Crimes Laws

Philly

The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on LGBT hate crimes Thursday - with lawmakers, advocates, and concerned citizens weighing in on the ongoing efforts to amend the state's hate crimes statues to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

CBS Philly reports:

Sims“We have an uphill battle in this legislative climate to pass LGBT hate crimes laws,” said State representative Brian Sims [pictured right].

Sims called the hearing, which was held at the Kimmel Center. He told dozens who sat in the audience the goal is to build a record to support an amendment that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the state’s hate crime statute.

Victims, experts, and LGBT leaders testified. Alicia Gonzolez of GALEAI says LGBT people are disproportionately targeted:

“Many gay bashing crimes are unsolved and many more are unnoticed.”

Earlier this week, we reported that a December court date was set for the three suspects charged in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in Center City, Philly that catalyzed these efforts to amend the state's hate crimes laws.  

[photo via Twitter]


December Court Date Set For Three Charged in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO

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The three suspects charged in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in City Center, Philadelphia will not face a preliminary hearing in court until December 16, according to NBC 10 News. 

The defendants, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, and 24-year-old Philip Williams, are accused of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy. The December court date was granted because attorneys for the accused “requested more time before [the] preliminary hearing”: 

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb078c5a13970d-300wiPolice accuse the two men and a suburban police chief's daughter with taking part in an assault that left one man with a wired jaw.

Despite the charges they face, the suspects -- through their attorneys -- insist the gay couple instigated the fight when one of them threw the first punch, and that gay bashing was not the motive

"With respect to my client, he was not the aggressor," said Fortunato Perri, an attorney for Williams. "[He] did not initiate anything and only became involved in the incident after one of the purported victims in the case punched one of the girls in the face."

Despite the defendants’ claim that they were not the instigators, reports have abounded that the fight was preceded by homophobic slurs hurled against the victims by the defendants. You’ll also recall the social media sleuthing done by activist Scott Wooledge who dug into accused attacker Kathryn Knott’s Twitter account and found a history of homophobic remarks. 

The accused attackers have all been released on bail. They will not face hate crimes charges as Pennsylvania law does not offer hate crime protections on the basis of sexual orientation. However, that may be about to change if State Rep. Brian Sims and State Sen. Jim Ferlo have their way.

Watch a news report on the latest update out of Philadelphia, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "December Court Date Set For Three Charged in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO" »


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