In an effort to protect citizens who are subjected to hate or discrimination based on their sexual orientation, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Enhanced Hate Crimes Law earlier this morning.
The law, also known as House Bill 3930, offers further protections to LGBT Illinoisans, and it offers explicit protections for transgender people for the first time. The bill was championed by Democratic representatives from Lake County, Evanston and Chicago, and it was the first pro-LGBT bill to make it to the Republican governor’s desk.
“We are excited this important bill will now become law and explicitly cover the full LGBT community under the Illinois hate crimes statute,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois.
The bill was unanimously passed by the Illinois House and Senate before it reached Gov. Rauner. The Enhanced Hate Crimes Law will go into effect on January 1, 2016.
Updating the Old Law
Illinois already had a hate crimes law in the books, as the existing law was signed by former Gov. James Thompson in 1990. The old law protected individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation, which had been interpreted to include gender identity. The new law specifically added gender identification as a protected category under the state’s hate crimes statute.
Additionally, the new law extends protections to community centers that may be targeted for institutional vandalism because of their sexual orientation, gender identity status, or the people they serve. Cherkasov credited the Republican governor for passing the bill, and he hopes he’ll continue to champion rights for the LGBT community.
“We hope that Gov. Rauner’s approval of HB 3930 is a harbinger of his favorable consideration of other priorities for LGBT Illinoisans, especially HB 217, which protects LGBT youths from dangerous conversion therapy, and HB 3552, which requires funeral directors to honor the gender identity instructions left by the deceased,” Cherkasov concluded.