April 5, 2019 (Indianapolis, IN) - On Wednesday, April 3rd, Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law Senate Bill 198
that includes language on hate crimes, which allows judges to consider stricter sentences for someone who harms or intimidates a person based on color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. Indiana is one of five states without comprehensive hate crime protections. While this bill now does more to recognize religious minorities including Sikhs, it fails to comprehensively include protections for those targeted because of gender, gender identity and age.
Initially, Indiana’s state Senate introduced Senate Bill 12
, which included all protected classes. On February 19, 2019, Senate members amended the bill and removed protected class language, including religion, prompting the Sikh Coalition and Indiana Sikh community members to engage.
Since February, the Sikh Coalition has proudly worked with local Indiana Sikh community leaders, including nine gurdwaras that signed onto a letter
demanding that Indiana elected officials include religious minorities and all other protected classes in hate crime legislation. Senate Bill 12 never received a committee hearing, and on March 25th, language around bias crime sentencing was added as an amendment to an unrelated bill, Senate Bill 198. The amendment refers to Indiana Code 10-13-3-1
, which includes color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation, but it does not specifically mention gender, gender identity or age.
This version of the bill, including the language on bias crimes, passed in the Indiana State Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Holcomb on April 3rd.
Sikhi is founded on the core tenets of equality, inclusion and justice for all. The Sikh Coalition
and Anti-Defamation League
do not support the final version of this bill because it does not go far enough in protecting all of Indiana's residents.
“Governor Holcomb and the Indiana State Legislature failed their constituents by not passing a fully inclusive hate crime bill,” said Nikki Singh, Sikh Coalition Policy and Advocacy Manager. “While this legislation does recognize religious minorities, it ignores several of the most vulnerable communities. This bill is not fully inclusive and keeps Indiana on the list of five states that still do not have meaningful hate crime legislation.”
The Sikh Coalition is thankful for the support and sense of community that mobilized around this issue, and we will continue to work towards implementing inclusive hate crime legislation in Indiana.
For 17 years, the Sikh Coalition has worked to combat and prevent hate in America. This work continues at the local, state and federal levels. If you or somebody you know is ever the target of bias, bigotry or backlash, the Sikh Coalition legal team is here to provide free legal resources and support
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.