A Federal Bureau of Investigation report on Monday noted more than a fifth of all bias-motivated incidents in 2011 were motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.
Statistics the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program published indicate 20.8 percent of the 6,216 bias incidents reported to the agency last year were motivated by sexual orientation, compared to 46.9 percent prompted by race. The agency noted in its 2010 report that 19.3 percent of reported incidents were prompted by anti-gay bias, compared to 47.3 percent that were racially motivated and 20 percent based on religion.
“The 2011 FBI hate crimes data is a sad reminder that even as we make great strides towards equality under the law, LGBT people [continue to] face dangers in America,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said. “We must rid our country of the violence that has devastated our community for far too long.”
The FBI released its report less than three weeks after an Alabama woman’s girlfriend’s brother allegedly attacked her in what some maintain was an anti-gay hate crime. (Mallory Owens told a reporter with WKRG in Mobile, Ala., after she left the hospital that Travis Hawkins, Jr., did not attack her on Thanksgiving night because of her sexual orientation.)
A 23-year-old gay Latino man was assaulted outside his Columbia Heights apartment on Oct. 27 in what D.C. police have categorized as a hate crime based on the victim’s sexual orientation and ethnicity.
Metropolitan Police Department statistics indicate there have been 42 bias-related crimes based on sexual orientation between January and October, compared to 35 over the same period in 2011. The MPD reports there have been nine anti-transgender crimes in the nation’s capital between January and October, compared to seven during the same period last year.
The latest FBI report does not include statistics on bias-related incidents based on gender identity and expression, but the agency will begin to collect them next year as outlined in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act that President Obama signed in 2009. The FBI will begin to report them in 2014.
“The FBI’s hate crime report, like MPD’s, does not represent the actual occurrence of hate crimes,” Hassan Naveed, vice chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, told the Washington Blade. “There is mass under-reporting of all hate crimes — motivated by race or sexual orientation — since many people from underrepresented communities do not feel comfortable reporting these attacks to the police.”
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs in May reported the number of anti-LGBT murders in 2011 rose 11 percent from 2010. The agency noted 87 percent of the 30 anti-LGBT homicide victims were LGBT people of color, with trans women comprising 40 percent of those who lost their lives to anti-LGBT bias-motivated crimes.
“The one thing we may be seeing is the impact of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes law bringing attention to this issue,” NCAVP Executive Director Sharon Stapel told the Blade in response to the latest FBI report. “But we’re still dealing with large numbers of people who either don’t know how to report to the police or choose not to report to the police. I would say that even these numbers don’t represent the amount of hate violence people in the United States face.”