The state Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill to toughen the state’s hate crime and bullying laws.

The bill, which had passed in the state Senate unanimously, now heads to desk of Gov. Jon S. Corzine. He is expected to sign it into law.

The measure amends an existing bias intimidation law by adding the terms “gender identity” and “national origin” to the list of classes of protected people under the statute.

David Smith, deputy director of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said the law gives the state some of the strongest protections in the nation for transgender people.

New Jersey’s hate crime law already provided protection for individuals based on race, color, religion, gender, handicap, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

The bill also mandates two hours of anti-bias training for police officers, and it requires school districts to update their anti-bullying policies. It also establishes a commission to oversee the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs and to promote training.


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