U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) recently introduced the Protect Cemeteries Act, a bill that would make the desecration of cemeteries a violation of religious freedom.
The measure would amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the vandalizing of cemeteries as one of many infringements on the right to freedom of religion.
Although the bill applies to cemeteries across the globe, it would have a significant impact on many residents of Queens. The Borough is home to many immigrants who have family members and ancestors buried in distant lands.
“Cemeteries are places of great significance to religions and families across the world, and often times reflect the history and religious identity of their communities,” Meng said. “Disturbingly, however, those who promulgate hate and intolerance increasingly do so through the desecration of cemeteries which is why this legislation is necessary. Hate crimes must not be tolerated anywhere in our society, and that includes the desecration of cemeteries.”
Meng’s legislation is expected to be referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.