FBI report shows increase in anti-LGBT hate crimes

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: ‘Bias-motivated crimes are a real, frightening problem in the United States,’ said HRC’s Alphonso David. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The number of hate crime incidents targeting gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the United States in 2018 increased by nearly 6 percent over the previous year and the number of anti-transgender hate crime incidents increased by 41 percent during that same period, according to the FBI’s newly released annual Hate Crime Statistics Report.

The report, which covers 2018, the most recent year for which the FBI has released hate crimes data, shows that participating law enforcement agencies throughout the country reported to the FBI a total of 7,120 hate crime incidents for 2018, 55 fewer than the total reported for 2017.

Under guidelines set by the FBI, the incidents are broken down into six categories of “bias motivation” – Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender, and Disability.

The report released by the FBI last week shows that out of 7,036 “single bias incidents” reported in 2018, 57.5 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 20.2 percent were motivated by a religious bias; 17.0 percent were prompted by sexual orientation bias; 2.4 percent were motivated by gender identity bias; 2.3 percent were motivated by disability bias; and 0.7 percent (47 incidents) were motivated by gender bias.

The 2018 report shows participating law enforcement agencies reported 1,196 sexual orientation related hate crime incidents for that year, an increase of 5.8 percent over the 1,130 incidents related to sexual orientation reported in 2017.

According to the report, there were 168 incidents in 2018 in which a victim was targeted for a hate crime based on their gender identity, an increase by 41.1 percent over the 106 gender identity related incidents in 2017.

In its 2018 report, the FBI says the 1,196 incidents based on sexual orientation included 726 anti-gay male incidents, 129 anti-lesbian incidents, 303 anti-LGBT “mixed group” incidents, 21 anti-bisexual incidents, and 17 anti-heterosexual incidents.

Among the 168 gender identity related incidents, the 2018 report says there were 142 anti-transgender incidents and 26 reported anti-gender non-conforming incidents.

In response to a request from the Washington Blade asking whether President Trump is concerned about the increase in anti-LGBT hate crimes shown in the FBI report, the White House issued a short statement.

“The president has said that hate has no place in America and has condemned racism, bigotry and violence,” the statement says. “This administration is committed to ensuring law enforcement have all the tools they need to investigate and disrupt hate crimes or acts of domestic terrorism against any person or group.”

In its data on hate crime incidents in individual states and D.C., the report shows there were a total of 213 reported hate crime incidents in D.C. in 2018, with 68 targeting the victim based on their sexual orientation and 33 related to the victim’s gender identity.

The FBI report shows there were a total of 143 hate crime incidents reported in Virginia in 2018, with 23 related to the victim’s sexual orientation. The report shows there were no reported hate crime incidents in Virginia related to a victim’s gender identity in 2018.

For Maryland, the FBI report shows a total of 50 hate crime incidents in 2018, with nine related to the victim’s sexual orientation and five related to the victim’s gender identity.

In Delaware, the report shows a total of 16 hate crime incidents in 2018, with two related to sexual orientation and none related to gender identity.

Similar to nearly all 50 states, the 2018 report shows that large numbers of law enforcement agencies in medium to smaller cities and towns in Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware did not submit any hate crimes data to the FBI for purposes of its annual hate crimes report. The FBI report places these non-reporting jurisdictions into a category it calls “Hate Crime Zero Data Submitted.”

Among the jurisdictions falling into that category in Delaware was Rehoboth Beach and nearby Lewes, both of which are popular summer resort destinations for LGBT people in the mid-Atlantic region.

Sal Seeley, director of Health and Wellness for the Rehoboth Beach LGBT community center CAMP Rehoboth, said he was not aware of any hate crimes occurring against LGBT people in Rehoboth in recent years. But he said he was surprised that Rehoboth’s LGBT-friendly police department would not have submitted information to the FBI stating whether or not any hate crimes have occurred in the town recently.

Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“Bias-motivated crimes are a real, frightening problem in the United States, and LGBTQ people continue to be targeted because of who they are,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the national LGBT advocacy organization based in D.C.

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