Utah lawmakers reject hate crimes proposal

Utah state capitol in Salt Lake City.

Utah state capitol in Salt Lake City. Drew McKechnie

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah‘s GOP-controlled Senate has rejected a proposal to beef up the state’s hate crimes law and add protections for gay and transgender people.

The proposal from Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart would give heavier punishments for crimes motivated by factors such as a victim’s race, gender, religion.

The measure failed by six votes in the 29-member Senate on Wednesday. Lawmakers say they’re concerned it could create special protections for some people and punish people for their thoughts.

Supporters say the state’s current law is unenforceable and Urquhart’s bill would have boosted protections for everyone.

Utah is one of more than a dozen states with hate crime laws that lack protections for sexual orientation and identity.

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