Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Men and Trans People in the Cross Hairs: Behind the FBI’s 2010 Hate Crimes Statistics

Washington, D.C. –  Hate crimes statistics for 2010 are out from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The good news is that, overall, the numbers of reported hate crimes last year held steady.  The FBI report, accessible here, documents 6,624 single-bias incidents, which range from acts of vandalism to cold blooded murder. Four more incidents encompassed multiple-biases, making for a grand total of 6,628 incidents reflecting 7,699 offenses as reported voluntarily by law enforcement agencies around the nation.  These data represent a serious undercount of the actual number of hate crimes perpetrated against Americans during the last year, since 1) reportage by local law enforcement is sheerly voluntary with no funding from the federal government to aid small jurisdictions to report, and 2) local law enforcement officials are often loathe to classify an incident as a hate crime because of a variety of reasons, such as how the community regards social groups and racial/sexual minorities.

Behind the statistics are the stories of flesh-and-blood victims and their families, and the news here is disturbing. 1,528 victims were targeted because of animus against sexual orientation.  Of these, 57.3 percent of victims were gay males, and 11.9 percent were lesbians. The numbers of violent attacks against transgender people are fragmentary at this point, since statistics of this particularly vulnerable group have only been recorded by the FBI since the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Obama in October 2009.  But the news of brutalities against transgender people, especially transgender women of color, is alarming.  GLAAD reports that, of the people murdered for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression bias, 70 percent were persons of color, and 44 percent were transgender women [NCAVP figures]. Though suicides of LGBTQ teens due to homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools have captured the headlines repeatedly since 2010 began, no separate FBI statistical category yet exists for the collection of these data.

In the recent Civil Rights Conference on Hate Crimes at the University of Texas at Arlington, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez declared in his keynote address, “We are experiencing a headwind of hatred and intolerance in the United States.” FBI Special Agents appealed to local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney officials, and leaders from the North Texas LGBTQ community to co-operate in the reporting of hate crimes, underlining the difficulty feds are experiencing amassing accurate data.   In its 2010 report, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), widely held to offer more accurate statistics on anti-LGBT hate crimes than the FBI, noted a 13 percent rise in homophobic and transphobic violence from 2009 to 2010, and a 23 percent rise in the murders of LGBTQ people.

November 15, 2011 - Posted by | Bullying in schools, FBI, gay men, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Justice Department, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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