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Hate Crime Laws

Hate crime laws require law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crimes committed with bias against LGBTQ people. Some state laws also require collection of data on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.
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The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows the federal government to prosecute hate crimes, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity. State laws may also allow for state or local prosecution of certain hate crimes, depending on what, if any, protections the state law offers.
  • Law enumerates sexual orientation and gender identity(23 states, 2 territories + D.C.)
  • Law enumerates only sexual orientation (11 states, 0 territories)
  • State explicitly interprets existing hate crimes law to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (1 state, 0 territories)
  • Existing hate crime law does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity (13 states, 0 territories)
  • No hate crime law (3 states, 3 territories)
*Note: Georgia's state law explicitly enumerates sexual orientation, sex, and gender. "Sex" was added to the bill after the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock, which affirmed that sex applies to both sexual orientation and gender identity.
*Note: Tennessee state law explicitly enumerates sexual orientation, but not gender identity. However, the law does enumerate "gender," and the state attorney general affirms that this means transgender people are also protected.

Hate crime laws are intended to deter bias-motivated crimes, but there is no consensus around the efficacy of these laws in preventing hate crimes against LGBTQ people. Additionally, some advocates argue that hate crime laws may be counterproductive to that goal. Research further suggests that the enforcement of hate crime laws disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, particularly communities of color. Read more about how criminalization impacts people of color here.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a federal law that amended federal hate crime law to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. Several states have hate crime laws that require data collection for sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, but do not impose additional penalties: Indiana (sexual orientation), Michigan (sexual orientation) and Rhode Island (gender identity or expression). For additional information, contact the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, or the Equality Federation.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Hate Crime Laws." https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/hate_crime_laws. Accessed [date of access]. 

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBTQ adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBTQ adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

54%

54 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have hate crime laws covering sexual orientation and gender identity

25%

25 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have hate crime laws covering sexual orientation

2%

2 % of LGBTQ population lives in states which explicitly interpret existing hate crimes law to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity

17%

17 % of LGBTQ population lives in states with laws that do not cover sexual orientation or gender identity

2%

2 % of LGBTQ population lives in states with no hate crime laws

Key
  • State has law that only covers sexual orientationLaw covers sexual orientation
  • State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identityLaw covers sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
State Hate Crime Law Year Passed
  Citations
Alabama
Alaska
American Samoa
Arizona
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2003
Arkansas
California
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1999
Colorado
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2005
Connecticut
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2004
Delaware
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1997 (SO); 2013 (GI)
District of Columbia
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1989
Florida
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2001
Georgia
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2020
Guam
Hawaii
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2003
Idaho
Illinois
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001 (SO); 2016 (GI)
Indiana
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2019
Iowa
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2002
Kansas
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2002
Kentucky
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2001
Louisiana
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2002
Maine
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001
Maryland
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2005
Massachusetts
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002 (SO); 2011 (GI)
Michigan
Minnesota
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1993
Mississippi
Missouri
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1999
Montana
Nebraska
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2002
Nevada
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001 (SO); 2013 (GI)
New Hampshire
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002 (SO); 2019 (GI)
New Jersey
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002 (SO); 2008 (GI)
New Mexico
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2003
New York
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002 (SO); 2019 (GI)
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern Mariana Islands
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001 (SO); 2008 (GI)
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
Rhode Island
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001 (SO); 2012 (GI)
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2001
Texas
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2002
U.S. Virgin Islands
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2014
Utah
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2019
Vermont
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001
Virginia
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2020
Washington
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1993 (SO); 2009 (GI)
West Virginia
Wisconsin
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2002
Wyoming


Data current as of 11/23/2020
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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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