Washington – For the first time, crimes directed against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation are the second most frequent hate crime committed after crimes based on race, according to the 2011 Hate Crimes statistics released by the FBI as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

Surpassing crimes committed on the basis on religion, the number of reported hate crimes committed against gay men and lesbians increased from 1,277 in 2010 to 1,293 in 2011.

In May, the Tennessee Board of Investigation’s 2011 Hate Crimes was released and showed that hate crimes based on sexual orientation almost doubled from 2010 to 2011.

The overall percentage of the reported sexually biased hate crimes was 16.1 percent, or 42 out of the 261 total reported hate crimes in 2011. In 2010, those numbers were 23 out 173, or 13.3 percent.

A greater number of lesbians were hate crime victims than were gay men (23 anti-female homosexual crimes versus 16 anti-male homosexual crimes). Hate crimes of an anti-lesbian bias also showed the biggest increase from 2010, jumping from five reported offenses to 23.

Memphis Police Department reported the greatest number of total anti-gay and -lesbian hate crimes that included forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault and intimidation. Gallatin and Hendersonville Police Departments noted the lowest number of reported anti-homosexual crimes with one count of simple assault each.

“The 2011 FBI hate crimes data is a sad reminder that even as we make great strides toward equality under the law, LGBT people in face dangers in America,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We must rid our country of the violence that has devastated our community for far too long.”

Hate crimes statistics are submitted to the FBI by law enforcement agencies across the country on a voluntary basis – there is no requirement under the law for agencies to submit the data.

In 2011, the number of agencies reporting this data dropped to 14,575, a decrease from 14,977 the previous year. Of these data-submitting agencies, only 1,944 reported even a single hate crime to the FBI, the lowest number of agencies reporting one or more hate crimes since 2002.

Reporting hate crimes to the FBI is a criterion in HRC’s new Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first rating system of GLBT inclusion in municipal law, which was released in November. Such reporting demonstrates law enforcement’s attention to such crimes and ensures that the larger law enforcement community is able to accurately gauge the scope of and responses to hate crimes.

Crimes reported to the FBI involve those motivated by biases based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin and disability. Currently, the FBI does not collect data on hate crimes committed on the basis of gender identity.

Under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the FBI will begin collecting this data in 2013 and will report these statistics beginning in 2014. HRC and partner organizations have worked with the FBI to implement changes to hate crimes data collection since the passage of the Act in 2009, assisting in updating the agency’s crime reporting form and training materials to include gender identity.
 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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