ATLANTA (June 29, 2020) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and its Georgia affiliate, AID Atlanta, praised the move of the Georgia General Assembly and the state’s governor for swift action to enact the Georgia Hate Crimes Act into law on Friday, June 26.
“The new law will provide increased penalties for criminal defendants whose victim was selected based on his or her race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability. It will give state prosecutors and law enforcement officials in our state important tools to make Georgia safer for everyone,” said AID Atlanta Executive Director Nicole Roebuck.
AID Atlanta is an affiliate of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. As a public health organization, a majority of the people AID Atlanta and AHF serve in Georgia are African American men who already face an enormous amount of stigma due to their HIV status. “Because of stigma, some patients do not remain in care or adhere to their medications for fear of disclosure of their status. This new law includes sexual orientation in its definitions which is a critical protection for the many people we care for in the LGBTQ community. From a public health standpoint, enactment of hate crime legislation is of the utmost importance,” said Roebuck.
“The recent tragic death of Ahmad Arbery, who was killed while jogging in a neighborhood near his home, is yet another reminder of how too frequently unarmed Black persons are hunted down and killed simply because of their race. The murder of Ahmad Arbery does not have to be in vain. With the enactment of the Georgia Hate Crimes Act, prosecutors now have additional tools they need to bring charges against perpetrators of these violent acts,” said National Director, Communications & Community Engagement for AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Chair, Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition Imara Canady.
“Prior to this new law, Georgia was one of the four states that did not have a hate crimes statute. Georgia can now more effectively address the violence against the African American community and other marginalized communities. Hate crimes demand a priority response because of their special emotional and psychological impact on the victim and the victim’s community,” added Canady. The three remaining states without a hate crimes statute are Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming.
AID Atlanta and AIDS Healthcare Foundation provide service to 5,962 clients in the state of Georgia. While African Americans make up only 13.4% of the U.S. population, 72.48% of the clients AID Atlanta and AHF serve in Georgia are African American. AID Atlanta has been providing HIV-related services, care, and education since its inception in 1982.
“AHF offers its sincere appreciation and gratitude to the many elected officials of Georgia who came together in a bipartisan effort to address the scourge of hate crimes that are only now coming to the surface. We share in mourning the loss of far too many who have been killed. We are encouraged and given new hope by the actions of Georgia’s legislature and Governor Kemp,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein.
# # #