US: Hundreds rally for LGBT hate crimes protection in Philadelphia

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Over 300 people gathered in Philadelphia for a rally calling for an expansion of Pennsylvania’s hate crimes laws to include LGBT people.

Thursday, hundreds of Pennsylvania residents gathered in Love Park in the state’s capital urging lawmakers to vote on expanding the state’s hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The rally was organised by State Representative Brian Sims in response to the brutal attack on a Philadelphia gay couple earlier this month.

Speakers at the rally included Sims, District Attorney Seth Williams, State Senator Larry Farnese, and Caryn Kunkle, a friend of the assaulted couple.

Kunkle said the couple, who were at home healing from their injuries, were overwhelmed by the show of support from the community.

She said: “It was really powerful to see all the public and political support. I hope this message is loud and clear: Love over hate.”

A proposed expansion of Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law is outlined in two bills before the Senate and House that would include gender, gender identity, and disabilities. Philadelphia City Council also has a measure going to a vote which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to their hate crimes law.