HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut and AP) – 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.

The bill already cleared the House of Representatives and heads to the governor.

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.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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