The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was passed by the U.S. Congress on October 22, 2009 and signed into law by President Barack Obama yesterday (October 28, 2009). It aims to expand the existing (1969) federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
The Act makes three key provisions:
Section 4707 amends United States Code Title 18, section 249, to include actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity in the list of hate crimes punishable under federal law.
Section 4704 (a) provides for the Attorney General – at the request of a state or local law enforcement agency – to provide ‘technical, forensic, prosecutorial or any other form of assistance’ in the investigation or prosecution of a hate crime. Section 4704 (b) provides for the Attorney General to make grants for extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation or prosecution of a hate crime.
Section 4706 provides for the appropriation of additional personnel to assist state authorities or local law enforcement agencies to prevent and respond to violations of section 249.
Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia