Laws on Hate Crime and Sexual Orientation

Since the president signed it into law back in 2009, controversy has reigned over the applicability of hate crime law and sexual orientation. The controversy intensified since the federal and state courts adopted the penalties as specified in the actionable law. Interestingly, these controversies surround the violation of freedom of speech and the definition of ‘sexual orientation’.

Recent updates

In the recent updates, it is understood that hate crime encompasses sexual orientation. Combing through the previous legislation can reveal that even crime laws never existed at all. However, the crime law developed due to the need to protect the citizens from perpetrators. Interestingly, 7 states had not developed crimes laws by the year 2004. Even with the states that had developed this law, they could not protect the citizens as sexual orientation was not clearly defined. Many perpetrators went scot free by sidelining the law since they knew the existence of this loophole. However, as time went by, there was the need to mend this leakage in the justice system as more law enforcement agencies addressed the need to have the sexual orientation clause defined with more clarity.


Interestingly, there used to be no controversy on the applicability and interpretation of a particular law and the associated penalties. However, when ‘sexual orientation’ was added to the revised hat crime law, it triggered heated controversy than has ever been before.

Even the most conservative religious fronts have joined the bandwagon in opposing the penalties associated with this actionable law. The interpretation is that the new version of hate crime law prohibits their capacity to speak against the thorny issues of homosexuality. Some believe that this law violates the freedom of speech and expression. With these sentiments, it appears that the fundamental freedom of religion is under attack.

Other religious organizations stipulate that the law does not address speech and thought. Even with these stand points, there are advantages associated with this law. The usage of the term ‘sexual orientation’ protects all and sundry. Equally, crimes that involve one person only affect that particular person. Therefore if hate crimes are directed to a particular group they affect that group thus the associated penalty should be severe to compensate for its severe consequences.

The disadvantages to the law are equally affecting the people whom the law is intended. If gays and lesbians are protected then this law provides equal privileges.

Current standpoint

Gauging from the court rulings made recently, ‘sexual orientation’ has not been addressed at all. In other words, clouds of doubt on the correct interpretation are yet to be established.     


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