LGBTQ Community Now 'Most Likely Target of Hate Crimes' in America
The massacre of patrons at an Orlando nightclub catering to the LGBTQ community was a sad reminder that sexual orientation violence has become the most common hate crime. A recent report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (AVP) revealed that violence against America’s LGBTQ community rose by 20% in the last year. Now, according to FBI statistics reported in a New York Times analysis, the LQBTQ minority group have become the “most likely target of hate crimes in America,” surpassing Jews, Muslims (who are also increasingly targeted) and blacks. But race is still a risk factor; the AVP report also noted transgender women of color are twice as likely to encounter violence than their white counterparts.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, this information might not come as a surprise. What is shocking is the sustained obstinacy in some circles to acknowledge that the event was a hate crime.
"We must understand this event as a consequence of the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that permeates our everyday environments, such as workplaces, schools, and homes that we all have the responsibility to challenge," said Emily Waters, a research and education coordinator for AVP, in a statement following the massacre.
In light of Waters’ comment it becomes particularly important for the language around such crimes to be explicit. Not doing so serves to further entrench the environment in which such violence can take place unchecked.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, said in an interview with Mic, "Sometimes officials make very strange calls when it comes to hate crimes. The reality is that most people's motives are very mixed up. We'll learn less about [Mateen’s] motivation than we might have if he had survived the shooting."
In obfuscating Mateen’s motivation (or in this case, attempting to offer too simple of an explanation), commenters who fail to mention homophobia fuel what creates the problem in the first place: acknowledging the humanity of people within the LGBTQ community.
In recent years the LGBTQ community has won many decisive national legal victories, most notably the right to marry. Ironically, as many invested in studying the rise in hate crimes note, this in part has contributed to the rise in violence against the group.
"We need to challenge the anti-LGBTQ legislation that is popping up all over the country, and call out the inherent homophobia and transphobia in these bills that incites violence against LGBTQ people," Waters wrote in a followup email to Mic. "We need policies that promote non-discrimination, but it's important to be thoughtful in developing these policies to ensure that all of our diverse communities are centered."