November 23, 2004
Alarming Rates of Hate Crimes Reported by FBI
Sexual Orientation-Based Crimes Now Second-Highest Category of Reported Hate Offenses
WASHINGTON - Sexual orientation-based bias crime is now the second-highest category of hate crime offenses in the United States, according to new information from the FBI. Previously the third category behind race and religion, 1,430 hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation were reported in 2003. Six murders were reported based on sexual orientation - the highest category, followed closely by four murders based on race bias.
"Hate crime continues to be a national scourge," said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques. "The current federal hate crimes statute needs to be strengthened immediately to give law enforcement the tools they need to combat these crimes."
According to the FBI report "Hate Crime Statistics - 2003," 8,715 criminal offenses were identified as being motivated by hate. Of these offenses, 1,430 - or 16.4 percent - were crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation. Offenses based on race account for the highest category of bias crime at 52.5 percent. The third-highest category is crimes based on religion - also at approximately 16.4 percent.
"The new statistics only offer a glimpse of the problem," said Jacques. "Reporting these crimes is voluntary for local jurisdictions and hate crimes often go unreported by victims due to fear and stigmatization."
The data also does not track crimes based on bias against transgender people. Nov. 20 marked the Sixth Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, where our community mourned the loss of 21 transgender individuals to hate violence over the past year.
This summer, the U.S. Senate amended the defense authorization bill to include a strong hate crimes measure - the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act - on a bipartisan vote of 65-33 with 18 Republicans voting in favor. On a procedural vote in September, the House voted in favor of keeping the hate crimes measure in the defense authorization bill by a bipartisan vote of 213-186. However, the provision was stripped in conference committee.
"This new data confirms that hate motivated crimes remain a problem of critical national importance," said Jacques. "And still - despite widespread support among law enforcement, the American people and members of Congress from both parties - a few congressional leaders consistently block common-sense responses to this problem."
LLEEA is endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and many others.
Of the hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation violence, 61.6 percent were committed due to anti-male homosexual bias, 21.3 percent were due to an anti-homosexual bias, 15.4 percent were committed due to anti-female homosexual bias, 1.0 percent were committed due to anti-heterosexual bias and 0.6 percent were motivated by anti-bisexual bias.
The entire report is available on the FBI website.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.