Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

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The Matthew Shepard Act, officially called the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, is an Act of Congress that was passed on October 22, 2009,[1] and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28[2]. The act adds crimes that are committed because of the victims gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability to the 1969 federal hate-crime law.[3]

The Act is the first federal law that gives legal protection to people who are transgender[4][5].

The bill also:

  • protects a victim even if they were not engaging in a federally-protected activity, such as voting or going to school;
  • gives federal law enforcement a greater ability to look into possible hate crimes that local law enforcement decides not to;
  • gives $5 million per year in funding for 2010 through 2012 to help both state and local governments pay for the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes;
  • makes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) track how many hate crimes are committed against transgender persons[6]

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