In 2019, there are no hate crime laws in place in Indiana. Something that is common in so many places, hasn’t quite made its way to Indiana.

There was a bill that had been drawn up that would have protections against hate crimes based on ethnicity, race, or sexuality.

Unfortunately, that bill was almost completely changed by the majority of the Republicans in the House. It was stripped to a point where bias would be consideredwhen investigating crimes. Many of the republicans who modified the bill defended their viewpoint by saying that by taking away the details makes sure it “covers everyone”

The bill is labeled “Senate Bill 12” and according to indystar.com it originally read:

“”Makes it an aggravating circumstance (for purposes of imposing a criminal sentence) that a crime was committed with the intent to harm or intimidate an individual or a group of individuals because of certain perceived or actual characteristics of the individual or group of individuals.”

The bill has passed in the Senate, now its next locations is the House. From there Speaker Brian Bosma will propose another hate crime bill, this one less-specific than the one heading there now.

In the year 2019, there are only five states that do not currently have hate crime laws. Indiana is included in those five.

The changing of the bill comes in the midst of tragedy for one family. 32-year-old Mustafa Ayoubi, was shot and killed in a parking lot at an apartment complex. Ayobi was followed by Dustin Passarelli on I-465 and Ayoubi pulled off.

The exchange started with Passarelli yelling anti-Muslim slurs at Ayoubi. Passarelli then shot Ayoubi.

The lack of a hate crime law in Indiana is as controversial, if not more, than the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was passed in 2015. The bill allowed anyone to practice their religion freely, including businesses being able to turn people away for being a part of the LGBT+ community.

In such a diverse and accepting society, it is baffling to think that Indiana does not have any laws protecting someone from being physically or verbally attacked just because of who they are, or who they love.

Lebanon High School students were unaware that Indiana was one of five states that did not have hate crime laws in place.

“It disturbs me because it is allowing for more racially motivated crimes, and other actions to happen more often,” said senior Rowan Meyers.

While students did not know about the lack of laws, once they were told some were not surprised Indiana was behind the times.

“Surprised? No. I have always found Indiana to be lacking in the civil rights and cultural development part.” Said Meyers.

On the other side of things, junior Jeffrey Hart has a different viewpoint on the status of the bill.

“When bias is considered I think that can be pretty dangerous in a court of law because then you are starting to criminalize intention rather than the actual action,” said Hart

Even though Hart has a different viewpoint towards hate crime laws in Indiana, he was not surprised that Indiana did not have any.

“Not surprised, no. We are a pretty conservative state so it does not surprise me by any means,” said Hart.

Indiana is generally a Republican state, meaning it holds traditional values. Though, traditional values should not get in the way of someone’s health and safety just because of who they are. The lack of laws protecting those of another race, religion, or sexuality is disturbing and Indiana needs understand it is 2019 and everyone has a right to feel safe with who they are.