U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston, citing evidence that the fear of AIDS has led to an increase in assaults on homosexuals, said he will introduce legislation ordering a nationwide study of such crimes of hate.
Cranston (D-Calif.) announced Friday that he would use the proposed study by federal law enforcement officials to draft a bill making attacks on homosexuals a federal offense, if research shows that the fear of AIDS has increased their frequency.
The bill, which is to be introduced Monday, directs U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III to begin collecting data on the number of attacks motivated by prejudice against an individual's "affectional or sexual orientation."
"There is evidence that public fear and lack of accurate information about AIDS is causing an increase in attacks against gays," Cranston told a news conference held with officials from the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in Los Angeles. Crimes motivated by racial prejudice are already classified as federal offenses.
Cranston rejected suggestions that his action is aimed primarily at mending political fences with the homosexual community, which has criticized the senator for failing to take a leadership role in the fight against acquired immune deficiency syndrome.