SB 198 is unconstitutionally vague and will undoubtedly lead to legal battles. In addition to referencing a list of protected classes, SB 198 contains a broad and vague definition of attributes. This language is unconstitutional, violating due process and threatening to suppress free speech. Hate crimes legislation involves a delicate balance between punishing criminal acts without stifling thought or speech. As a strong defender of free speech, the ACLU opposes legislation, such as the current version of Senate Bill 198, that threaten to criminalize speech.
In addition, the ACLU of Indiana will not stand for a hate crimes law that does not explicitly list gender identity as a protected class. Transgender people are disproportionately targeted with violence because of who they are. The purpose of listing protected classes in any civil rights or hate crimes laws is to make sure that those who are targeted by discrimination and are most vulnerable, are protected. These laws are in response to violence based on immutable traits and identities, including race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.