The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

New Intelligence Report Finds Gays Most Targeted for Violent Hate Crimes

By Heidi Beirich on November 22, 2010 - 12:22 pm, Posted in Intelligence Report

The FBI issued its 2009 Hate Crime Statistics report this morning. The report shows that the number of reported hate crime incidents fell from 7,783 to 6,604. But a pattern that has existed since the FBI started tallying these numbers remains: the LGBT community is, by far, the most victimized by violent hate crimes (attacks against people as opposed to property). The rate at which gays and lesbians suffer from such crimes greatly exceeds their presence in the population, a painful reality documented in the Winter 2010 issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, which was released today.

The 2009 FBI numbers show that the LGBT community suffers from violent hate crimes at levels that are more than eight times their percentage in the population. Analyzing the FBI data from 1995 to 2008, the Report found that gays are 2.6 times more likely to be attacked than blacks; 4.4 times more likely than Muslims; 13.8 times more likely than Latinos; and 41.5 times more likely than whites. The basic pattern holds true when looking at individual years.

The relative rates of hate crime victimization by population group are likely more revealing than the absolute numbers of hate crimes reported by the FBI. A 2005 DOJ study using survey data found that hate crimes are greatly underreported and that the real level of hate crime in America was about 191,000 incidents per year — in other words, about 20 to 30 times higher than the numbers annually reported by the FBI.

These findings come as a wave of anti-gay attacks have washed across the country. In New York, for example, 10 suspects were arrested for brutally torturing three gay victims. And in Covington, Ky., a neighborhood was hit by a series of violent anti-gay attacks. Most dramatically, four teenagers committed suicide in September after being bullied, taunted or outed as homosexuals.

The new issue of the Report also explores how the hard-core anti-gay movement in America is becoming more extreme in the face of gay rights advances. Even after the recent string of teen suicides, which brought national attention to the issue of anti-gay bullying, leaders of these groups blamed those seeking to protect students from bullying.

Eighteen anti-gay groups are profiled in the Winter 2010 issue, which also contains an article debunking 10 key claims spread by the anti-gay movement to demonize homosexuals. These claims – ranging from the myth that homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals to the utterly bizarre claim that gays helped orchestrate the Holocaust – are examined in detail.

Anti-gay “murder music,” a style of music that features lyrics advocating the murder of homosexuals and is growing in popularity far beyond its native Jamaica, is also described. The music has sparked an effort by gay and lesbian activists in Jamaica and throughout the Western world to stop its growth.

  • Frank

    Thank you for your response.

  • R Lavigueur


    Judging by the breakdown of the study in the Intelligence Report, the groups that were measured were ‘homosexuals’, Jews, blacks, Latinos, whites and Muslims. In the study, the homosexual category was defined and estimated using figures on self-identified gays, lesbians and bisexuals, which makes the use of LGBT in the article somewhat misleading as it doesn’t look like the T category was represented in either the study or in the analysis of the data.

    This is unfortunate, since you’re right that transgender and transsexual individuals are far more victimized and discriminated against than the LGB part of the community, and often face discrimination from the LGB parts of the community as well as from outside. This discrimination impacts transgendered and transsexual people in all areas of life, and violence is no exception.

    The lack of inclusion is probably because gender identity still isn’t included in federal hate crime legislation, and thus anti-trans discrimination is more likely to go unrecorded, unpunished, and uncommented on. Even where it is recorded, this exclusion makes it difficult to paint a national picture of anti-trans violence and difficult to get accurate numbers. Changing that fact would mean challenging the exclusion in these laws, and any progress on advancing transgender rights is difficult in the face of shrill voices about bathrooms and the complete incomprehension of trans-identified people by the average American.

  • Frank

    Transgendered and transsexual people are subject to far more hate crimes and discrimination than gays and lesbians in this society. Were they not a factor in this study?

  • Joe

    As a Gay American, Thank You for this Meaningful Report!