Hate crimes, or bias-motivated crimes are offenses motivated by hatred against a victim based on his or her race, religion, sexual orientation, handicap, ethnicity, or national origin.
Locally and nationally, PFLAG fights against hate violence, advocating for fairer laws, educating our communities and supporting families and our allies. Bias motivated crimes targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people hurt all our families. Opponents of hate crime legislation often ask why such laws are necessary, when existing criminal laws carries penalties for assault, murder, and other violent crime. The answer is, hate crimes are simply not “like any other kind of crime.”
- HATE CRIMES ARE MESSAGE CRIMES. Anti-gay hate violence, along with all bias crime, causes profound damage to individuals, families, groups and our communities generally. Perpetrators of anti-gay violence are sending a clear message to g/l/b/t people, those perceived to be g/l/b/t, or those who are g/l/b/t-supportive that they are unwelcome and unsafe in a particular community.
- MOST HATE CRIMES ARE COMMITTED BY “AVERAGE” PEOPLE. Perpetrators are typically not “psychos,” neo-Nazis or “skinheads,” but otherwise law-abiding people who disdain those who are “different,” or view such difference as threatening. Recent research suggests that anti-gay hate crime perpetrators perceive gay bashing to be socially sanctioned and, therefore, acceptable behavior.
- ANTI-GAY HATE CRIME, LIKE OTHER BIAS CRIME, IS PREVENTABLE. According to the American Psychological Association, research concludes that “hate crimes are not necessarily random, uncontrollable, or inevitable occurrences,” but that “there is overwhelming evidence that society can intervene to reduce or prevent many forms of violence, especially among young people, including the hate-induced violence that threatens and intimidates entire categories of people.”
- ANTI-GAY HATE VIOLENCE MUST BE ADDRESSED LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY THROUGH STRONG LEGISLATION, RIGOROUS LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND WIDESPREAD COMMUNITY EDUCATION.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Hate Crimes Statistics report, released in 2001, there were 1,317 reported anti-gay hate crimes in 1999. Of the 7,876 bias-motivated crimes, sexual orientation is ranked third in number of reported hate crimes, with race ranked first, followed by religion. Reported anti-gay violence has been increasing since 1996.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is a network of 26 anti-violence organizations that monitor and respond to incidents of bias, domestic, HIV-related and other forms of violence affecting the GLBT community. The 2001 NCAVP report shows the amount of anti-gay violence increased between 1999 and 2000, with a total of 2,151 anti-gay incidents reported in 2000.