FBI report shows hate crimes up overall; anti-gay crimes tend to be more violent than others
Hate crimes overall were up by about 2 percent in 2008, compared to 2007, according to Hate Crimes Statistics 2008, a report published Monday, Nov. 23, by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
But hate crimes based on sexual orientation were up by about 11 percent over the same time period, and hate crimes based on sexual orientation tended to be more violent, the report indicated.
The report included 7,783 criminal incidents involving 9,168 offenses, with 13,690 law enforcement agencies submitting data in 2008.
Of the more than 9,000 offenses included in the report, 1,617 — or 18 percent — were based on sexual orientation bias. Of that number, 58.6 percent were anti-gay male; 12 percent were anti-lesbian, 25.7 were "anti-homosexual"; 2 percent were anti-heterosexual and 1.7 percent were anti-bisexual.
In 2007, only 2,025 law enforcement agencies submitted data, reporting 7,624 incidents involving 9,006 offenses. Of those offenses, 19 percent were based on sexual orientation bias.
Seven of the offenses reported in 2008 were either murder or non-negligent manslaughter. Of those seven, five were based on sexual orientation bias. The report shows that three of the murders were anti-gay-male, and two were anti-bisexual.
Of the 11 forcible rapes reported, six were sexual orientation bias crimes, and included one anti-gay-male crime and five anti-lesbian crimes.
The also report notes that 23 percent of the 1,025 aggravated assaults and 28 percent of the simple assaults were sexual orientation bias crimes.
Other crime categories included in the report were intimidation (15 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes), robbery (34 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes), burglary (15 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes), larceny (14 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes), motor vehicle theft (23 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes), arson (11 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes), vandalism (11 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes) and crimes against society (11 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes).
Crimes against society include drug or narcotic offenses or prostitution.
Hate crimes based on race comprised 52 percent of the hate crimes included in the report, with 75 percent of that number being anti-black crimes. Hate crimes based on religion made up 17 percent of reported bias crimes, and the majority of those — 66 percent — were anti-Jewish. Another 13 percent were based on ethnicity or national origin, the majority being anti-Hispanic, and less than 1 percent were based on disability.
The report included eight multiple-bias incidents, defined as incidents that included more than one offense with at least offense types motivated by different biases.
Overall, according to the report, 60 percent of the reported hate crimes were crimes against persons, and 40 percent were property crimes. The majority of the crimes against persons — 49 percent — were intimidation, 32 percent were simple assaults and 18.5 percent were aggravated assaults; 0.3 percent were either murders or forcible rapes.
Most of the property crimes — 82 percent — were acts of vandalism or property damage or destruction.
A total of 6,927 individual offenders were identified in the report. More than half were white.
FBI officials note that comparisons of statistics from one year to statistics from a previous year are likely to be inaccurate, because participation by law enforcement agencies is not mandatory, and because the number of agencies participating varies from year to year.
Officials also pointed out that the agency has been collecting data on hate crimes based on sexual orientation since the mid-1990s but has so far not included hate crimes based on actual or perceived gender identity. Following passage this year of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, the report for 2009 will include hate crimes based on gender identity.
The legislation expanded federal civil rights laws to criminalize violence or attempted violence against victims because of their race, color, religion or national origin, and added four new categories to that list of biases — actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 27, 2009.