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Lawmakers pass stronger hate crimes bill

HARTFORD  — Connecticut lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed what advocates believe is the strongest hate crimes legislation in the nation.

Democratic and Republican senators said they hope Tuesday's unanimous vote sends a strong message to the rest of the country that bigotry will not be tolerated in Connecticut.

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano said the bipartisan nature of the bill, "speaks to a need of having to state a position for the state of Connecticut. We're not going to tolerate this type of behavior anymore."

The bill already cleared the House of Representatives and heads to the governor. A spokesperson for Governor Dannel Malloy tells FOX61 the governor's office is reviewing the bill.

The legislation makes commission of a hate crime a felony. Violence and threats based on a person's gender and against houses of worship or other religious facilities will result in tougher penalties.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, a Democrat, says the legislation shows Connecticut is "a beacon of tolerance." The bill comes amid an increase in threats against religious centers.

The Connecticut Anti-Defamation League says the bill would be the toughest nationally.