Hate Crimes

In the coming year, one of Freedom Oklahoma’s major focuses through public education and advocacy will be to include gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression into Oklahoma’s existing hate crimes protections. There is indisputable evidence that violent, bias- motivated crimes are a serious, widespread problem in Oklahoma, and across the United States. It’s not the frequency or number of these incidents that set them apart from other crimes. It is the effect they have on the victims, their families, their communities and, in some instances, the whole state or nation.

A hate crime or bias-motivated crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. While an act of violence against any individual is always a tragic event, violent crimes based on prejudice have a much stronger impact because the motive behind the crime is to terrorize an entire group or community. Statistical information collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation consistently shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and those perceived to be LGB, are attacked more than heterosexuals relative to their estimated population size in the United states. since 1991, more than 100,000 hate crime offenses have been reported to the FBI. In 2007 alone, 1,265 LGB- biased hate crimes were reported to the FBI, which is a 6-percent increase from 2006. sexual orientation consistently ranks as the third-highest motivator for hate crime incidents (17 percent of total attacks). attacks motivated by race-based bias are the most prevalent (51 percent in 2007), followed by religion-based attacks (18 percent in 2007). Bias-motivated attacks on the basis of gender identity are not tracked on the federal level.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that hate crimes against LGB and transgender persons are under-reported in the United states. some victims do not report sexual orientation-motivated hate crimes because they do not want to be identified (“outed”) in police reports as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender. Moreover, sexual orientation- and gender identity-based hate crimes may not be perceived as bias-motivated by responding officers because of their inexperience, lack of education or their own biases. Many police departments do not have protocols in place for the accurate reporting of bias crimes. In addition to this, many hate crime victims occupy more than one out-group position in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin and/or disability. as a result, hate-based attacks may be identified in simpler terms than was actually the case, or their details may be lost as these characteristics are grouped as “multiple bias” attacks in federal reporting.

*The Human Rights Campaign provided some of the information cited above.

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