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New Gay Hate Crime Stats Show Little Change


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New Gay Hate Crime Stats Show Little Change

by Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: October 17, 2005 7:00 pm ET

(Washington) LGBT civil rights groups on Monday said that new statistics on hate crimes shows the need for swift passage in the Senate of a hate crime bill.

The FBI Uniform Crime Report shows cites 738 hate crimes committed against gay men and 164 were against lesbians. That is a six percent drop from the previous year. The FBI does not track crimes against transsexuals.

A similar report by the New York-based Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project shows a four percent increase in crimes against gays and lesbians.

"The two figures - the FBI decrease and the Violence Project increase shows that nothing has changed," Clarence Patton of the Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project told 365Gay.com. "Both figures are within the margin of error."

The FBI bases its statistics on a compilation of crime data reported by nearly all state and local law enforcement agencies for 2004 while the Violence Project uses figures submitted by local LGBT groups across the country.

Patton said that a longstanding wariness by gays of reporting crimes to police likely accounts for the differences between the two studies. Gays have traditionally not reported crimes to police because of fears of being outed or that police will not pursue the cases. Patton said that gays are more likely to report crimes against them to LGBT community organizations.

"We can't tell how long it will take before the FBI realizes it must work more consistently with community based advocacy groups because we're going to get more reporting," Patton said. "Hate violence remains a major problem for our community," he said.

"We need a hate crimes law that includes gays and lesbians and gender identity," Steven Fisher, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign told 365Gay.com "We need this bill enacted into law to ensure the strongest possible penalties against hate crimes."

Last month the House of Representatives passed legislation to expand federal hate crimes laws to include gays, lesbians and the transgendered. (story)

Called the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act it has passed the Senate in previous congressional sessions only to die in the House. A Senate version of the bill is currently before the chamber, but unlike the House bill it does not include the transgendered.

The legislation extends existing hate crimes laws that already cover crimes motivated by race, color, national origin and religion. If enacted it would allow the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting cases in which violence occurs.

©365Gay.com 2005


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