By Bob Katzen
The Judiciary Committee held a virtual hearing on legislation that would add height discrimination to the definition of a hate crime which currently includes any criminal act, coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation prejudice; or “which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seek to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.”
Another provision makes it a crime to videotape or photograph a person with a disability without the person’s consent and to convey the photograph electronically or in print for the sole purpose of harassing or annoying the person or the person’s family. Violators would be sentenced to a 3-month prison sentence and/or up to a $500 fine.
“I introduced this bill … alongside the Massachusetts Chapter of the Little People of America … after being approached by constituents and hearing the heartbreaking stories of widescale harassment, targeting little people and their families,” said sponsor Rep. Michael Kushmerek (D-Fitchburg). “I knew that something had to be done to ensure their safety and preserve respect and dignity, both in public and at home.”