Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gays Most Often Targeted by Hate Crimes in America; SPLC Report Confirms Alarming News

Montgomery, Alabama – In a blockbuster announcement released today, the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual Intelligence Report confirms that LGBTQ people are the most often targeted group for physical violence in American life.  As human rights groups scored advances for LGBTQ people in 2009, hard-core anti-gay groups have stepped up hate speech and are digging in to reverse the justice done to queer folk throughout the United States.  In its analysis of better than 14 years of data on hate crimes, the SPLC found that LGBTQ people were twice as likely to be the victims of violent attacks than Jews or African Americans, more than four times more likely than Muslims, and 14 times more likely than Latinos and Latinas.  As gay and lesbian people increase in acceptability among the populace at large, anti-gay groups are becoming far more extreme in opposition, and are employing alarming new tactics to undermine the queer community.  PR Newswire and US Newswire quote Mark Potok, editor of the Winter 2010 issue of the SPLC Intelligence Report: “As Americans become more accepting of homosexuals, the most extreme elements of the anti-gay movement are digging in their heels and continuing to defame gays and lesbians with falsehoods that grow more incendiary by the day.  The leaders of this movement may deny it, but it seems clear that their demonization of homosexuals plays a role in fomenting the violence, hatred and bullying we’re seeing.” Spurred on by a belief that homosexuality threatens “historic Christian faith,” hard-line religious groups and their secular right wing political allies are blaming the very people and organizations dedicated to protecting the LGBTQ community, especially LGBTQ teenagers who have been reported as committing “bullycide” from anti-gay harassment in recent weeks.  As Evelyn Schlatter writes in her Intelligence Report article on religiously-motivated anti-gay bias groups: “Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations.” A particular target for the ire of the religious right has been GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which has been most outspoken against the bullying of LGBTQ youth in American schools through its “Safe Schools” campaign.  Eighteen anti-LGBTQ hate groups are profiled in the report, and ten popular myths about LGBTQ people are debunked, as well, including the irrational claim that homosexuals were somehow responsible for the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews during the Second World War.  The Report does contend that some religious leaders are speaking out against anti-gay violence, such as the Rev. Fritz Ritsch, Senior Minister of Fort Worth’s St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church:  “The recent epidemic of bullying-related teen suicides is a wake-up call to us moderate Christians,” Rev. Ritsch, wrote in October in the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram. “To most unchurched Americans — meaning most Americans — the fruit of the church is bitter indeed. … [T]he bullying crisis has put a fine point on the need for moderates to challenge the theological bullies from our own bully pulpits. We cannot equivocate. Children are dying. We need to speak up. If not now, when?”  The summation of the SPLC report is grimly realistic.  For the near term, religiously-spawned anti-LGBTQ violence will continue, and perhaps increase.  The report concludes, in part: “Although leaders of the hard core of the religious right deny it, it seems clear that their demonizing propaganda plays a role in fomenting that violence.” It is up to all people of good conscience–especially people who identify with organized religion–to find the courage and spiritual resources to combat religiously and politically motivated violence against LGBTQ folk everywhere.

November 23, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-Semitism, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, gay men, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLSEN, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Public Theology, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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