Hate Crimes

SC Equality is working with Representatives King and Smith to pass a statewide Hate Crimes Bill

The Bill was introduced during the 2011 Legislative Session and continues through the 2012 Legislative Session (1/12 - 6/12).  As the Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd, Jr. Federal Hate Crimes Act applies to felony crimes, there is an obvious need for misdemeanor hate and bias-based crimes penalty enhancement.   To review the language of the bill, please click HERE


Congress enacts Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to provide legal protections for victims of hate crimes.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on October 22, 2009.  This measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.  This is the first federal law to extend legal protections to transgender persons.

The bill removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school.  It also gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now required to track statistics on hate crimes against transgender people (statistics for the other groups are already tracked). 

For South Carolina, one of only 5 states that do not have a hate crimes law, the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act means that for the first time there are legal protections for victims of hate crimes in this state.   The Columbia Division of the FBI, along with the US Department of Justice, has already begun training law enforcement officials in the state about the new and they are required to investigate all violations of federal law within the State of South Carolina not exclusively assigned to another federal agency.

In July 2010, agents from the Columbia office invited leaders in the GLBT community to a special presentation about the law.   At this event, the FBI agents made it very clear that anyone who thinks that they are a victim of a hate crime, especially if local authorities refuse to act, should call the 24 hour FBI hot line number (803) 551-4200.   The FBI will investigate and take appropriate measures if the investigation indicates that a hate crime has occurred.