NOTE: See related articles at the bottom for the most up-to-date information on hate crimes legislation this session.
Indiana—along with South Carolina, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Georgia—is currently one of only five states in the country without a hate crimes law on the books.
A series of high profile incidents helped highlight this disparity, including a July 2018 attack on Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, in which a pair of spray-painted Nazi Party flags and Iron Crosses, along with burn marks, were discovered on the brick walls around the garbage bins outside the synagogue.
However, the question of whether or not to include protected classes continues to be a sticking point.
Hate crimes legislation was conspicuously absent from House Speaker Brian Bosma's list of legislative priorities for this session, but remains a top priority for Democrats and the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, in particular, has been outspoken on this issue. He even broke with members of his own party to push for progress.
“I look forward to working with the General Assembly to achieve this goal so that our state law reflects what's already in my administration's employment policy,” he said during his Jan. 19 State of the State Address. “Businesses interested in Indiana care about this issue, but it's not just about business. At heart, this has to do with people's dignity and how we treat one another. Standing strong against targeted violence motivated to instill fear against an entire group is the right thing to do.”
Indiana Forward, a bipartisan group of representatives from the business, nonprofit, advocacy, education, and faith communities praised Holcomb's efforts. At a minimum, the campaign believes that any bias crimes law should clearly enumerate at least the following immutable characteristics: race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with him and our leaders in the General Assembly to make sure the best legislation crosses the goal line,” read part of the group's statement following Holcomb's address.
Hate crimes bills introduced this session include
Senate Bill 469, authored by Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis
House Bill 1203, authored by Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City
House Bill 1159, authored by Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis
House Bill 1371, authored by Rep. Chris Campbell, D-West Lafayette
House Bill 1093, authored by Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon
House Bill 1020, authored by Rep. Tony Cook, R-Avon
House Bill 1320, authored by Rep. Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis
Senate Bill 12, co-authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores
Senate Bill 75, co-authored by Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis, and Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis
Senate Bill 599, authored by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis