In sobering news (though it's Monday so practically everything is sobering news), the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program has announced that sexual orientation based crime is the second most frequent hate crime committed, second only to crimes based on race.
This is according to the 2011 Hate Crimes statistics.
More after the jump.
Interestingly crimes based on sexual orientation outnumber crimeds based on religion. The number of reported hate crimes committed against gay men and lesbians increased from 1,277 in 2010 to 1,293 in 2011.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin says, “The 2011 FBI hate crimes data is a sad reminder that even as we make great strides toward equality under the law, LGBT people in face dangers in America. We must rid our country of the violence that has devastated our community for far too long.”
Also notable: Hate crimes statistics are submitted to the FBI by law enforcement agencies across the country on a voluntary basis.
So we actually don't know how many more crimes have been committed against gays and lesbians based on their sexual orientation, or any other demographic group for that matter. We're only going based on information voluntarily provided. There's no legal requirement to provide that information.
Any guesses as to whether or not those numbers are actually higher?
In 2011, the number of agencies reporting this data dropped to 14,575, a decrease from 14,977 the previous year. Of these data-submitting agencies, only 1,944 reported even a single hate crime to the FBI, the lowest number of agencies reporting one or more hate crimes since 2002.
Still, groups like HRC aren't standing idly by. The Human Rights Campaign has instituted a new Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, which was released in November.
This reporting demonstrates law enforcement’s attention to crimes against the LGBT community and ensures that "the larger law enforcement community is able to accurately gauge the scope of and responses to hate crimes."
FYI "hate crimes" reported to the FBI involve those motivated by biases based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, and disability. Currently, the FBI does not collect data on hate crimes committed on the basis of gender identity.
That will change in 2013.
Under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the FBI will begin reporting statistics on crimes committed ont he basis of gender identity beginning in 2014 (with collection of information beginning in 2013).
HRC and partner organizations have worked with the FBI to implement changes to hate crimes data collection since the passage of the Act in 2009, assisting in updating the agency’s crime reporting form and training materials to include gender identity.
HRC Griffin applauds the FBI's work, saying, “We commend the FBI for recognizing the needs of transgender Americans, who face violence at alarming and disproportionate rates. Hate crime data will help law enforcement agencies better understand how to serve and protect the LGBT community.”
We're glad that these crimes will documented at a greater level, but we're really hoping that as the country moves towards greater equality, we'll see a decrease in hate crimes across all demographics.