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Bill would add ‘gender identity’ to hate crimes

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Legislation filed in the Florida House would add violence against an individual based on “gender or gender identity” to the state’s list of hate crimes.

Rep. Joseph Geller, an Aventura Democrat, filed the bill (HB 211) Tuesday.

“Florida has recently seen an increase in hate-crimes, from 73 committed in 2014 to 102 in 2015,” according to a press release. “From January 4 to March 21, there were 167 bomb threats to Jewish institutions in 38 states and three Canadian provinces.”

“Speaking up and protecting our fellow Americans against hatred, bigotry, and prejudice is critically important to our civil society,” Geller said in a statement.

The bill defines gender identity as “appearance or behavior, regardless of whether … different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.”

It also redefines “disability” in existing law as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

In a related move, Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, last week filed legislation to add “political affiliation or beliefs” as a hate crime predicate.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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