By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the wake of the September 11th gay bashing incident in Center City, the House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on LGBT hate crimes Thursday.

“We have an uphill battle in this legislative climate to pass LGBT hate crimes laws,” said State representative Brian Sims.

Sims called the hearing, which was held at the Kimmel Center. He told dozens who sat in the audience the goal is to build a record to support an amendment that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the state’s hate crime statute.

Victims, experts, and LGBT leaders testified. Alicia Gonzolez of GALEAI says LGBT people are disproportionately targeted:

“Many gay bashing crimes are unsolved and many more are unnoticed.”

She says transgender people and people of color are more often victims.

District Attorney Seth Williams testified that crimes legislation means harsher sentences, which sends a message:

“Hate has no place in our state. It must be condemned and it must be prosecuted.”

Lawmakers say they hope to pass the amendment by the end of the legislative session.

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