FBI hate crimes stats show rise in homophobic attacks

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The 2007 Hate Crime statistics released today in the US indicate a rise in the number of gay and lesbian people reporting incidents of homophobic attacks.

Of the 1,512 victims targeted due to a sexual-orientation bias, 58.9% were victims of an offender’s anti-male homosexual bias, according to the FBI.

24.8% were victims of an anti-homosexual bias, 13.0% were victims of an anti-female homosexual bias.

1.8 percent were victims of an anti-heterosexual bias and 1.5 percent were victims of an anti-bisexual bias.

While hate crimes were down one percent on 2006, there was a 6% increase in crimes against LGB people.

Overall, 7,624 hate crime incidents involving 9,006 offences were reported to the FBI that involved bias towards a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability.

52% were targeted because of their race, 17.1% because of their religious belief, 15.9% because of their sexual orientation and 14.1% were targeted because of their ethnicity or national origin.

Of crimes against persons, nine people were murdered and two were raped. Intimidation accounted for 47.4% of crimes against persons. Simple assaults accounted for 31.1% and aggravated assaults accounted for 20.6%.

In May the US House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act with a strong bipartisan vote of 237-180. It would add sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes law.

The Senate then approved the nearly-identical Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment to the Department of Defence Authorisation bill on a voice vote.

President Bush has indicated he would use his veto to block any attempt to extend federal hate crimes laws to LGBT people.

The Democratic candidate for President of the US, Barack Obama, has promised to “place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act.”

The legislation gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

It would also require the FBI to track statistics on hate crimes against transgender people and provides the Justice Department with the ability to take over investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias.

It also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers or assist in state and local investigations and prosecution of bias-motivated crimes.