Council voting on two hate crime ordinances

The Johnstown City Council will vote on two ordinances, Wednesday – an anti-hate crime and an anti-discrimination bill.
Wednesday’s vote will be the first of two votes on the bills, which if passed, would protect people in Johnstown from discrimination, as well as put a hate crime policy in place.
Bill Number 5 is a non-discrimination law that would prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity and Bill number 6 would create a hate crime policy.
In January, community members attended a unity rally after a message of hate was seen in town.
At Wednesday’s meeting, council members plan to amend that ordinance to include ethnic intimidation and malicious intent.
The bills need a majority vote to pass, before they could go to a final vote next month.
There is currently no statewide or local law that includes all of the protections proposed in the bills.
The ordinances were introduced by a local activist, John Debartola.
He said the laws would not only protect people’s rights, but it could improve the local economy.
“When you have laws like these in place, it helps the economy. It improves the community,” Debartola, president of the Keystone Alliance and Gaylife newsletter, said. “It creates an environment that fosters creation of jobs and hope. You need these things.”
If the bills are passed, the council will vote on them again at the next meeting on March 8.

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