Nev. Senate committee advances bill to add gender identity to hate crime statute


CARSON CITY, Nev. — A Nevada state Senate committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would add gender identity to the list of protected identities in Nevada’s hate crime statute.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the measure, which now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The bill, SB 139, adds gender identity or expression to the existing hate crime statute, which currently includes race, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability and sexual orientation. If a jury finds a crime was motivated by one of these qualifiers, the offender faces an additional charge carrying the possibility of 20 years in prison.

SB139 defines gender identity or expression as “the gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

State Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas), the bill’s sponsor, said that increasing the severity of penalties for attacks on transgender persons will curb some of the often gruesome violence against people of that identity.

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The measure has strong support with 16 sponsors in the Senate and 20 more in the Assembly, and observers expect it to pass in both chambers.

“I think you’re going to find a lot of support this year,” Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), told supporters during a hearing last week. “This bill is going to pass.”

Sen. Greg Brower (R-Reno), said the legislation “does not give special rights to any group.” He said it would be up to a judge after conviction to determine if the offender singled out the victim because of his or her gender identity.

The governor’s office says Gov. Brian Sandoval would not decide whether to sign the bill until the final version reaches his desk.

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