By Staff Reports

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 30 member programs report that gay-bashing incidents rose 24% compared to 2006

A report released May 20 in New York by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) and more than 30 of its members across the U.S. shows a 24 percent increase in incidents of violence against LGBT people in 2007, compared to 2006.

The 78-page report examines data compiled from 2,430 LGBT people who experienced hate violence in regions across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Columbus, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, the New York City area, Pennsylvania, the San Francisco Bay area, Vermont and Wisconsin.

NCAVP officials said their report is the most complete examination of anti-gay violence in the U.S., noting that the hate crimes reports published each year by the FBI consistently contains information on far fewer cases than the NCAVP publication. They noted the difference is probably because the FBI report relies solely on law enforcement reports rather than victim service organization data.

Overall, NCAVP’s 2007 report noted a 24 percent increase in total number of victims reporting incidents of anti-LGBT violence (from 1,954 to 2,430). The number of incidents of anti-LGBT violence rose 23 percent from 1,486 in 2006 to 1,833 in 2007, based on reporting from the exact same reporting regions as the year prior, and the total number of offenders increased by about 5 percent.

They noted that 2007 also had the third-highest murder rate in the 10 years that NCAVP has been compiling the report, with murders more than doubling from 10 in 2006 to 21 in 2007.

The report also shows a 61 percent increase in sexual assaults perpetrated as hate crimes.

Jovida Ross, executive director of Community United Against Violence in San Francisco, suggested that while the statistic on sexual assaults is disturbing, the higher rate at which LGBT people are reporting such assaults is "a hopeful sign that they are coming out of isolation to heal from trauma. It also demonstrates the positive impact of education and outreach."

Statistics in the NCAVP report show that the largest inrease in anti-LGBT incidents happened in the nation’s heartland: Anti-LGBT violence was up 135 percent in Minnesota, up 207 percent in Michigan and up 142 percent in Kansas City.

Regions showing an increased number of victims in 2007 included San Francisco (up 7 percent) and Pennsylvannia (up 28 percent). But New York City reported fewer victims (down 14 percent) and Colorado (down 27 percent).

Avy Skolnik, national programs coordinator at the New York Anti-Violence Project, said the actual number of incidents of anti-LGBT violence is most likely higher than the statistics show.

"We know that the 2,430 people who called on our organizations in 2007 are only a small fraction of the actual number of LGBT people who experienced bias-motivated violence," said Skolnik. "Anecdotally, we constantly hear stories of LGBT people surviving abuse — sometimes multiple attacks per day when that violence comes from a fellow student, a neighbor, a co-worker, a landlord, or a boss."

The largest increase recorded in 2007 was in Michigan where the Attorney General concluded a three-year campaign against domestic partnership benefits. NCAVP officials said that highly visible anti-gay campaigns such as that are often accompanied by spikes in the numbers of anti-LGBT violent incidents.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 30, 2008.
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