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Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura. (Photo: Florida House)

Influence

Bill would add ‘gender identity’ to hate crimes

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.

Written By

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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