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A gay couple was horrifically beaten — but their state doesn’t consider it a hate crime

On September 11, a group of two men and one woman allegedly beat a gay couple in Philadelphia. The beating was so bad, local news station Fox 29 reported, that a police officer thought one of the men had been shot. The victims told Fox 29 there was one reason for the attack: their sexual orientation.

The alleged attackers were charged for aggravated assault, among other charges, on September 23, according to the Associated Press. They won't, however, be charged with a hate crime. It's not even an option — Pennsylvania's hate crime law doesn't include  LGBT people as a protected group.

Pennsylvania is among 20 states that don't protect gay and lesbian people in hate crime laws and 35 states that don't protect transgender people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

status of lgbt hate crime laws

Gay men of all races and ethnic backgrounds are more than five times as likely to be the victims of a hate crime involving physical violence than all black or Jewish people, while lesbians are about twice as likely, according to a Williams Institute review of FBI data. The report indicated hate crimes are likely underreported, so the actual disparity could be even higher.

For transgender people, the problem appears to be even worse. A 2013 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found transgender Americans were 1.67 times more likely than other LGBT victims to experience threats and intimidation.

LGBT rights advocates are now working to change the hate crime law in Pennsylvania to include LGBT people. In a September 23 press conference, a state senator put a personal touch to the effort when he declared, "I'm gay. Get over it. I love it."