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Just some queers and perceived queers who were subject to hate crimes and/or murder in 2008. Learn more about their stories by clicking on their names.
(“…suspects later admitted robbing Dean because they thought a gay man would make an easier target.”)
Here’s why hate crime legislation is necessary and not just an ‘empty gesture’ as some have called it:
1. When hate crimes against certain groups are reported as such, the data can be tracked, aggregated, trends followed, and problem areas specifically addressed.
2. A hate crime has more victims than the primary person(s) who experienced the violence and abuse. A hate crime has as its secondary victims everyone else who belongs to that category that made the primary victims into targets. A hate crime against an individual who is perceived as LGBT has the effect of putting the whole LGBT community in a state of heightened fear. It establishes a precedent of attacking LGBT people because of their perceived queerness for other homophobic individuals who might tend towards violence. Therefore, a murder as a result of a hate crime has wider negative effects than a murder that was not a hate crime.
3. The label of hate crime breaks the silence that often surrounds violence and abuse towards oppressed and marginalized groups in society. It publicly names this particular kind of violence for what it is, which is of course essential if we want to look for real solutions to stop it. This is discussed in some of the links above… Indiana has no hate crime law, so LGBT advocates don’t know how prevalent hate crimes are, or which crimes against LGBT individuals were motivated by their LGBT status.
Something else to note: location, race, and socio-economic class seem to have important effects. A disproportionate number of those killed lived in conservative communities, were people of color, and were low-income. These parts of the victims’ identities intersect with their queerness, perceived or real, to create an identity, a personhood, that marked them as targets. Do their killers and harassers figure that by choosing victims who are doubly- and triply-marginalized they will be able to get away with their crimes? They certainly have enough precedent to think it’s a good bet. Or does possessing intersecting marginalized identities just create so much hate in would-be attackers that where one “offensive” identity would have been bearable, two or more is just temptation too great to resist?
The vast majority of brutality against gays is carried out by young men, usually acting in groups, said Riki Wilchins, executive director of Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a Washington nonprofit that works in schools to address discrimination.
Their victims most often are other young men with feminine demeanors or transgender women, said Wilchins. “These assailants are looking to eradicate and exterminate something that enrages them, and that is what makes them hate crimes,” he said.
Stapel attributed the increase in part to more people reporting incidents, but she believed there actually could have been more assaults because 2008 was an election year.
“Election years are always violent years for us because of wedge issues,” Stapel said, referring to ballot measures this year banning gay marriage in California and Florida. “With increased visibility comes increased vulnerability to LGBT stereotypes and violence. We’ve seen some of the most violent hate crimes that we’ve seen in a while.”
Do prominent anti-gay measures have the effect of creating more hate crimes against LGBT individuals? Do these measures send a message to society that queers are lesser people, second-class citizens, not quite as deserving of respectful treatment as “regular” folks? If we believe our laws are supposed to reflect our society’s values, then I would say that anti-gay laws definitely send a message that it is okay to treat LGBT people as “less than”. If we already have fewer rights before the law, some individuals inclined towards violence and hate will feel that violence against a gay person will be analogously less serious before the law than violence against a “regular” person.
Your thoughts please. Respect for the humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people is a requirement if you want to post. If I missed any anti-LGBT hate crimes, please post them in the comments!