Gov. Kemp signs antisemitism bill into law, declares 'we proudly stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters'


ATLANTA   — Declaring that there is no place for hate in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an antisemitism bill into law on Wednesday to protect the state's Jewish population from harassment, intimidation or violence.

"Our Jewish citizens have experienced hate in the form of antisemitic flyers spread across neighborhoods, messages on social media calling for the death of Jews in Israel and around the world and even hateful gatherings outside synagogues," Kemp said at the bill signing ceremony. "So, we are all thankful for the perseverance and dedication shown in getting this bill across the finish line as we work together to send a clear, unified message: In Georgia, we proudly stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters."

The law defines antisemitism as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Many supporters of the law, including Southern Baptist Suzanne Guy who had been a vocal supporter, wiped tears as Kemp signed the bill. She called it a momentous day because instances of antisemitism have skyrocketed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

"The unity that crossed party lines was priceless," Guy said. "What a gift to live in a state that supports and protects and stands with our Jewish sisters and brothers. "

Senate President Pro Tem John Kennedy, a Macon Republican, guided the bill to Senate passage by a 44-6 vote last week. The House later agreed to tweaks made by the Senate and passed it 129-5.

The handful of lawmakers who opposed the legislation said they feared it could be used to censor free speech rights. But supporters said law will apply only when someone has committed a crime.

“This legislation is not about stifling free speech," Kennedy said. "Nor is it about the government stopping someone from simply sharing their views. It is about safeguarding the dignity and the safety of our Jewish friends and neighbors.”

Arkansas passed a similar law last year, and legislation is pending this year in Indiana, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and South Dakota.