A bill that would enhance penalties for graffiti that promotes gangs or vandalizes religious property was approved by the state Senate this week, sending the measure to the Democratic-led Assembly.

The bill, backed by Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, would make such graffiti a first-degree felony.

At the same time, the measure would require diversity education for vandals if the graffiti was used to promote harassment based on race, religious or gender. A judge would be allowed to sentence a vandal to clean and repair the damaged property as well.

“Graffiti creates blight, damages property, and causes financial hardship for business owners and the community,” Kleni said in a statement. “My legislation will provide relief to graffiti victims, while giving these vandals an up-close look at the damages that they caused. By allowing judges to order vandals to clean up their own mess, allowing for diversity education to counteract hate-fueled graffiti, and creating a new Class-E felony for graffiti that encourages gang activity or targets religious property, this multi-faceted approach combats every aspect of this ever-rising crime.”

The bill now goes to the Assembly, where it is backed by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.