Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown and Councilman Jim Kenney are introducing legislation Thursday in response to the Sep. 11 assault of a same-sex couple in Center City, that would add a hate crime chapter to the city code.
If approved, the ordinance would mandate higher penalties for any crime committed against a person because of hatred toward that person's "perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or disability." A hate crime violation would add up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000, the ordinance suggests.
The ordinance would amend the section of the code that addresses "Regulation of individual conduct and activity," including ethnic intimidation and institutional vandalism. Violation of ethnic intimidation is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and monetary fines for a Class III crime offense.
The bill could be amended once it goes to a council committee for hearings.
"Philadelphia is known all over the world as a city that celebrates and values diversity and we will not allow a few thugs to tarnish that reputation," Brown said in a statement. "It is shameful that this legislation is necessary in 2014, but as Councilman Kenney and I have demonstrated in the past, we are proud to do it."
"Until the Commonwealth comes to its senses and treats these offenses as the hate crimes they are, Philadelphia City Council must do all it can to protect our citizens," Kenney said.