LGBT Hate Crimes Down, But Not Out

This week, the FBI released statistics for hate crimes reported in 2012. While there was a small decrease in the number of offenses, there were still 1,318 crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation reported to the FBI by local law enforcement agencies.

These numbers represent a 14% decrease in crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation compared with those reported in 2011. While this is a positive trend, we are reminded that a Department of Justice report on reporting hate crimes estimated that only one in three hate crimes was reported to police.

The FBI report shows 6,718 hate crimes voluntarily reported to the agency by participating law enforcement agencies, involving a total of 7,151 victims. A majority (54 percent) of the 1,318 victims targeted for their sexual orientation were gay men.

Roughly a third of the cases were physical attacks, another third were intimidation and the remaining third were vandalism or property damage.

The FBI cautioned that year-to-year comparisons are difficult due to the change in the number of law enforcement agencies that choose to participate each year.

“It is always encouraging any time these annual reports show a decrease in deliberate victimization of LGBT people,” said Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

“Sadly, downward statistical trends don’t translate to peace of mind for the distressingly high number of people who are still being emotionally, financially or physically harmed by these senseless crimes,” he added. “Law enforcement agencies at all levels are making progress in sensitively and constructively addressing these incidents on a case by case basis. Today’s report should serve to underscore not only that progress, but also the pressing need that continues to drive it.”

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