LGBT Hate Crimes
Despite the social and political progress in providing increased equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, a number of people continue to harbor prejudiced beliefs about people who identify with one of these sexual orientations. In some unfortunate circumstances, these people act on their biases and carry out hate crimes against LGBT individuals. Fortunately, New York has enacted a number of laws designed to protect LGBT individuals from hate crimes and to provide legal recourse against their perpetrators. At Phillips & Associates, our sexual orientation attorneys are prepared to help individuals throughout New York City assert their rights when they have been subjected to unlawful actions in the workplace.Understanding Federal and State Hate Crime Laws
In general, a hate crime or bias-motivated crime involves a violent, prejudicially motivated action that happens when the perpetrator targets a victim based on his or her actual or perceived membership in a specific social group. Common social categories that experience higher rates of hate crimes include race, gender identity, disability, nationality, physical appearance, and religion. In most cases, the hate crime involves bullying, verbal abuse, insults, slander, offensive graffiti, hate mail, stalking, or physical assault.
At the federal level, hate crime laws protect targeted groups from animus or enmity. Current federal statutes allow U.S. attorneys to prosecute crimes that target a particular group. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits the federal prosecution of any individual who “willingly injures, intimidates, or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force because of the other person’s race, color, religion, or natural origin” while the victim is attempting to engage in any of the recognized federally protected activities, like attending school or voting. Although this standard does not expressly include LGBT individuals, many activists and political groups are working hard to amend the law or enact a new law that provides the same level of protections.
New York’s hate crime law “provides that the commission of certain specified crimes which are committed in whole or substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation of an individual shall be punishable as hate crimes.” The law imposes stiff penalties for crimes that are motivated by a bias against the victim’s identification with one of these social groups, including LGBT. For example, a second-degree assault normally carries a seven-year prison sentence. If it is deemed a hate crime, however, the defendant could face up to 15 years in prison.
New York state residents also receive protections from sexual orientation discrimination and harassment under a number of other state laws. The Sexual Orientation and Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), for example, prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education, and public accommodations based on perceived or actual sexual orientation. A number of counties have also enacted local laws that provide protections for LGBT residents.Fight Sexual Harassment with the Guidance of a New York City Attorney
Being victimized in a hate crime based on your sexual orientation may be one of the most traumatic and devastating experiences that someone can face. The pain that results is usually more than physical, and it can result in long-lasting and life-altering consequences for the victim. At Phillips & Associates, our gender discrimination lawyers can assist LGBT hate crime victims throughout New York City, including in the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens. We offer a free confidential consultation to help you explore your rights and the legal remedies that may be available to you. Call us now at (833) 529-3476 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.