Bullying and hate crimes happen when someone is targeted because of an important part of their identity. A victim may be targeted because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity and gender expression. Bullying and hate crimes seem senseless, but one thing is clear: people who bully others and commit hate crimes purposefully choose their specific victims because of their own biases and prejudices.
The effects of hate crimes are different from the effects of other crimes because hate crimes can terrorize entire communities. For example, when we see on the news that a member of a group we belong to has been attacked for being who they are, any of us would worry that we and our families are at risk now also. In other words, hate crimes are especially frightening because they send a message to an entire group that they’re under threat as well.
In 2017, the FBI released a new report revealing that the frequency of hate crimes is spiking across the country—and even here, in Utah.
In 1992, Utah lawmakers adopted a hate crimes law. But that law has been essentially unenforceable. In fact, in the 25 years since it first passed, not a single offender has been convicted of committing a hate crime.
That’s why Equality Utah has been supporting a revision: the “Victim Targeting Amendments” bill by Senator Daniel Thatcher. These amendments are designed to protect all Utahns regardless of race, religion, nation of origin, ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. And we’re committed to continually advocating for strong statutes that will provide the basic safety all Utahns deserve.