Thursday, June 16, 2016

L.G.B.T. People Remain Mostly Likely Hate Crime Targets

While many continue to feel shock and express their horror over Sunday's murder of 49 mostly young LGBT men in Orlando - for most Republicans, it's, of course, only lip service - the fact remains that LGBT individuals remain disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.  Sadly, it should be no surprise when conservative religious denominations, including the anti-gay Roman Catholic Church, continue to depict us as a threat to marriage or even society itself.  And in places like Hampton Roads, Virginia, the transition of police from those to be feared to protectors of the LGBT community is a recent transformation.  Just 13 years ago I myself and activist Wayne Besen were stopped and harassed by Norfolk police officers as we were headed to The Wave, a local LGBT dance club - the officers involved made it clear by their words and behavior that they viewed harassing "faggots" to be great sport.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the sad reality that if one is LGBT, vigilance is always necessary.  Here are highlights:
Even before the shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were already the most likely targets of hate crimes in America, according to an analysis of data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
L.G.B.T. people are twice as likely to be targeted as African-Americans, and the rate of hate crimes against them has surpassed that of crimes against Jews.
Politicians have been divided on how to define the Orlando tragedy. President Obama called it both “an act of terror and and an act of hate.” But some Republican officials have refused to acknowledge that it could be considered a hate crime.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has omitted any mention of gays when talking about the massacre, and Representative Pete Sessions of Texas has said the site of the shooting was not a gay club.
According to a CBS News poll released on Wednesday, however, most Americans call the attack both a hate crime and terrorism. And the nightclub, Pulse, on its Twitter account, billed itself as “Orlando’s premier gay ultra lounge, nightclub and bar.”
Nearly a fifth of the 5,462 so-called single-bias hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. in 2014 were because of the target’s sexual orientation, or, in some cases, their perceived orientation.
As the majority of society becomes more tolerant of L.G.B.T. people, some of those who are opposed to them become more radical, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The flip side of marriage equality is that people who strongly oppose it find the shifting culture extremely disturbing, said Gregory M. Herek, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, who is an expert on anti-gay violence.
Finding accurate statistics about hate crimes targeting L.G.B.T. people is challenging, in part, because victims — fearful of outing themselves to family members or employers — might choose not to report an attack, Mr. Herek said.
A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that most crimes are not reported to the police, and those that are reported are frequently not classified as hate crimes by local jurisdictions.
A look at four years of homicides of L.G.B.T. people catalogued by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that the vast majority of those who were killed were black or Hispanic transgender people.
There is a long history, particularly in the transgender community, of not being treated with respect by law enforcement, social service agencies and the legal system, said Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles L.G.B.T. Center.
“Unfortunately, we just have to accept the fact that stigma based on sexual orientation is still widespread,” Mr. Herek said. “Overcoming those prejudices is a lot of work.”
As the article implies, religion remains the driving force behind anti-LGBT hate crimes and discrimination.  It goes without saying that the "godly folk" also dislike pretty much also all non-Christians even though they hold special animus towards those of us who are LGBT. 

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