Recent evidence from New York City suggests anti-gay hate crimes might now be more widespread and vicious than before.
That LGBT people are the group most targeted by violent hate criminals is no secret to those who study such matters. Nor is it a surprise that many such criminals have reacted to things like gay civil unions and the striking down of state sodomy statutes with fury. But recent evidence from New York City suggests that anti-gay hate crimes may now be even more widespread and vicious than before.
New Yorkers in recent months have been shocked by the murder and dismemberment of Rashawn Brazell, whose mutilated body was left in a subway tunnel on Valentine's Day, and the brutal beating of Dwan Prince, who was attacked outside his apartment building on June 9 and beaten into a coma as his assailants shouted anti-gay slurs. Anti-gay hate crimes were up by 32% in the city from 2004, even as other kinds of hate crime dropped. And the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project says reports of anti-gay violence are up 24% in the last two years, with reports of anti-gay assaults now averaging one each 36 hours.
The trend does not seem to be limited to New York. A sampling:
- On May 6, the body of Amancio Corrales, a Yuma, Ariz., female impersonator, was found in the Colorado River, bludgeoned to death.
- On July 9, five days after St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ in Middlebrook, Va., endorsed same-sex marriages, someone wrote "UCC Sinners" and "Gays Lovers" in the church before setting it afire.
- On July 24, the Heart Rock gay nightclub in Brownsville, Texas, was vandalized and set on fire.
- On July 25, a gay couple returned to their home near Orlando, Fla., to find it in flames and the words "Die F--" spray-painted on the steps. "Gays have increasingly challenged the status quo, most recently with their support and encouragement of gay marriage statutes around the country," said Northeastern University Professor Jack Levin, an expert on hate crimes. "The result has been to infuriate homophobic Americans who believe that marriage is, by definition, a union of husband and wife and who are convinced that the legalization of gay marriage weakens the traditional marital bond."