INDIANAPOLIS – The ACLU of Indiana opposes Senate Bill 198, the most recent version of bias crimes legislation. The bill passed the House on second reading Monday in a voice vote, meaning legislators’ votes will not be made public.

ACLU of Indiana Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Katie Blair issued this statement:

“The most recent bias crimes bill 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:

‘The person committed the offense with bias due to the victim's or the group's real or perceived characteristic, trait, belief, practice, association, or other attribute the court chooses to consider, including but not limited to an attribute described in IC 10-13-3-1.’ [Senate Bill 198]

“As it is written, this language is unconstitutional, violating due process and threatening to suppress free speech.

“In addition, the ACLU of Indiana will not stand for a bias 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. Last year was the most violent year on record for trans people, with more murders than ever before – particularly affecting trans women of color. 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. Not to include gender identity is completely unacceptable. 

"It is reprehensible that SB 198 passed in a voice vote, so as not to allow constituents the opportunity to hold their elected officials accountable.”