Sexual orientation back in South Carolina hate crime bill

Sexual orientation back in South Carolina hate crime bill
A group of South Carolina lawmakers have added back protections for gay or transgender people to a hate crime bill five days after removing them. (Source: WCSC/WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - A group of South Carolina lawmakers have added back protections for gay or transgender people to a hate crime bill five days after removing them.

But they then voted Tuesday to remove stalking and harassment from the crimes that could add an extra hate crime penalty, leaving the proposal to only deal with violent offenses.

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill and it now heads to the House floor.

Charleston Democratic Rep. Wendell Gilliard says removing non-violent offenses from the proposal is troubling. But he says they can be added back.

Gilliard agreed with Republican leaders whose goal is to get the bill to the House floor before an April 10 deadline that could keep it from passing.

Last week, lawmakers removed protections for gay and transgender people after a Republican lawmaker said he did not believe the bill would get enough immediate support with those protections in place.

That left supporters of the bill as originally written wondering if it was worth having a hate crimes law that doesn’t protect gay and transgender people, who they say are among those who most need the protection.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.