HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council adopted an ordinance Tuesday requesting the Mississippi Legislature to add sexual orientation, disability and gender identity to Mississippi’s hate crime law.
The ordinance was proposed by Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George and approved unanimously.
“If a hate crime is committed against someone in one of those groups, the offender cannot be prosecuted under a hate crime statute at the state level,” George said. “That case would then have to be elevated to the federal level if it were to be charged under a hate crime, and that’s not always feasible.”
Sexual orientation, gender identity and disability are protected under federal law and can be prosecuted in federal court as hate crimes.
“When our government refuses to include a certain group of people, that leaves them more vulnerable to hate crimes, violence and to being taken advantage of in several different ways,” said Susan Hrostowski, who spoke to the council in support of the ordinance.