House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus calls for action after murder of transgender teen

Lawmakers urge state Senate to pass anti-hate crimes bill following Mercer County killing

HARRISBURG, July 10 – After the murder of a 14-year-old transgender individual in Mercer County, members of the PA House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus released the following statement:

“We mourn the death of Pauly Likens and refuse to stand idly by while LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians are targeted because of who they are. It’s unacceptable that current hate crime laws in our commonwealth are not applied to crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“As incidents of violent hate crimes continue to rise across the nation, we urge our colleagues in the state Senate to pass H.B. 1027 and send it to the governor’s desk. It’s far past time to update Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute so that charges may reflect the especially heinous nature of hate-based violence.”

Sponsored by state Reps. Dan Frankel and Napoleon Nelson, H.B. 1027 would amend PA’s Ethnic Intimidation Statute to ensure protections for victims targeted because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, and disability, including autism. The bill would also provide victims with a civil cause of action against offenders.

The state House passed the legislation on a bipartisan vote in October of 2023, but it has yet to be considered by the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

“Not only has a light gone out with the loss of Pauly Likens, but the LGBTQ+ communities across our commonwealth are shaken and fearful,” said Frankel, D-Allegheny. “The federal government and dozens of other states have acknowledged that these groups are targets for hate crimes, and they’ve provided tools to law enforcement accordingly. Who are we as a commonwealth if we refuse to protect vulnerable people?”

Responding to the murder of Likens, Gov. Josh Shapiro said he would sign a bill that updates hate crime laws to include hate-based crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.