The House of the Representatives passed Thursday a bill that provides additional penalties for crimes motivated by hate, like criminal acts against the LGBTQ+ or against minorities. The bill now goes to the Senate for action.
All 19 representatives present voted to pass House Bill 22-18, or the Hate Crimes Act of 2021, which was authored by Rep. Donald Manglona (Ind-Rota). Manglona was not present at the session as he was attending a Rota Legislative Delegation meeting.
H.B. 22-18 will amend Division 4 of Title 6 of the Commonwealth Code relating to disposition of offenders and sentencing to provide criteria for imposition of enhanced sentencing of defendants for crimes motivated by hate.
Before the lawmakers voted the bill, Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) thanked Manglona for championing the CNMI’s first hate crimes legislation.
“It is fitting, colleagues, that we would act on this during Pride Month,” Sablan said.
She said this is a piece of legislation that is of special importance to the LGBTQ+ members of the community as well as for other protected classes.
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.
Sablan said people in the CNMI are blessed to live in a mostly kind and loving community, but sadly there is also hatred and racism. She said there have been crimes here in the CNMI motivated by being against members of the community merely because of who they are, or a particular characteristics they may have, whether it’s their gender identify, their ancestry or national origin.
“In passing this bill, colleagues, we make it clear that the CNMI is no place for hatred and that there will be enhanced penalties for criminal acts that are driven by prejudice,” she said.
In doing so, Sablan said, the CNMI joins the rest of the nation and so many jurisdictions across the country that have already embraced the same message and policy.