Indiana state senators have voted to pass a proposed hate crimes bill by a vote of 39 to 10.
Indiana is one of five states in the U.S that does not have hate crime laws in place and the president of the Greater Terre Haute Branch of the NAACP, Sylvester Edwards, says the state lawmakers are working to change that.
“There’s been so much criticism with Indiana being one of the five states that does not have a hate crime bill, so now they’re trying to give us something.
For Edwards “something” is not enough, after specific protections for race, religion, and sexual orientation were stripped from the bill on Tuesday, making it a judge’s decision to increase a sentence for hate crimes. Edwards says there’s too much room for interpretation.
“The deal is, between a hate crime bill and the discretion of what a judge might do in the 92 counties, is that one says he “may”. The hate crime bill says he “shall” give additional time,” Edwards said.
Edwards isn’t the only one in opposition of the new version of the hate crime bill, Ray Blaylock, a grad assistant for ISU’s LGBTQ Center says she believes without the specific protections that the bill can create more problems in the future.
“This was supposed to protect the people who have never really been given any protection, and then you take it away from them,” Blaylock said.
Cameron Stice, the president of Spectrum, a LGBTQ club on ISU’s campus says that the amendments to the original bill takes away from the progress that was being made.
“We were going to take a giant step forward, having a hate crime law here in Indiana but amending it just took that all away,” Stice said.
Stice says although she believes the current bill does not fully protect many against hate, she was pleased to see Governor Holcomb acknowledge that more needs to be done.
Senate Bill 12 will move to the House for its next vote.