Bias crimes spread a message of fear to an entire community. Bias crime laws recognize the social costs of bias-motivated violence. They are about saying violence against gay and transgender people is not OK. Equality Utah supports efforts to enforce and enhance bias crime laws.
Utah law offers clear protections from bias crimes to some communities, including teachers and police officers, but there are no clear protections for gay and transgender people. A new law passed in 2006 may allow judges to consider bias crimes against gay and transgender people as an aggravating factor. The sentencing judge must consider "the public harm...including the degree to which the offense is likely to incite community unrest or cause members of the community to reasonably fear for their physical safety or to freely exercise or enjoy any right secured by the Constitution."
- Statute: Hate Crimes—Aggravating Factors
Utah Code §76-3-203.4
- Case: Wisconsin v. Mitchell
508 U.S. 476 (1993). Supreme Court unanimously holds that bias crime laws are constitutional.
- Study: Comparison of Hate Crime Rates Across Protected and Unprotected Groups
- Article: FBI Report Shows Rise in Utah's Hate Crimes
Deseret News Oct. 28, 2008.