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Hate Crimes Data Bill Passes House Panel

A bill requiring the Justice Department to collect data about crimes motivated by racial, ethnic, religious and anti-gay prejudice was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a 21-13 vote last week.

The Hate Crime Statistics bill would require the FBI to publish an annual report similar to the Uniform Crime Statistics it now provides.

A similar bill was approved by a House Judiciary subcommittee two years ago, introduced by Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D-Conn.), but never was voted upon by the full House. Kennelly and Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.) reintroduced the bill this year.

However, the bill adopted by the committee was introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), adding the concern for anti-gay prejudice.

There is some fear that including crimes against gays in the hate bill might endanger its passage in Congress. But David Brody, Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, stressed that it was important to gather statistics on hate-motivated crimes in order to make the public aware of the extent of such crimes.

The House recently adopted a bill, introduced by Glickman, that would impose federal criminal penalties for damage to religious property and injury to persons in the free exercise of their religious beliefs.

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