The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently responded to troubling federal data showing unacceptably high levels of hate crimes — and an increase in those targeting LGBTQ people — as disclosed by the FBI In November 2020, the last time the statistics were updated. The data collection effort was created after Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act in 1990.
The report shows that hate crimes based on sexual orientation represent 16.7% of hate crimes, the third largest category after race and religion. The report also shows an uptick in gender identity based hate crimes rising from 2.2% in 2018 to 2.7% in 2019.
Because reporting hate crimes to the FBI is not mandatory, these alarming statistics likely represent only a fraction of such violence. The number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes data decreased by 451 from 2018 to 2019. 71 cities with populations exceeding 100,000 either did not report data to the FBI or affirmatively reported zero hate crimes which is clearly not credible. The lack of mandatory reporting means that the FBI data, while helpful, paints an incomplete picture of hate crimes against the LGBTQ and other communities.
That is why since the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in 2009, HRC has worked with the FBI to update the agency’s crime reporting, from providing training materials to sharing details on hate crimes when they occur. HRC continues to press for improved reporting, passage of state laws that protect LGBTQ individuals from hate crimes and expanded education and training initiatives.
It’s not only LGBTQ people who are affected by this epidemic of violence. Bias-motivated crimes based on race, religion, disability and gender remain at troublingly high levels. Racially-motivated crime remains the most common hate crime, with nearly half of race-based hate crimes targeting Black people. For the fourth year in a row, there was a significant uptick in hate crimes targeting the Latinx community, increasing 9% from last year. Crimes involving religion-based bias increased with crimes targeting Jewish people and Jewish institutions rising 14% and anti-Muslim hate crimes rising 16%.
Thousands of law enforcement agencies voluntarily submit data to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s (UCR) Hate Crime Statistics Data Collection on crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, gender and gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientations, or ethnicity. Individuals may also report a hate crime on behalf of themselves of someone they know at tips.fbi.gov.
This effort, which includes data from city, county, college and university, state, tribal, and federal agencies, allows the law enforcement community to recognize and document hate crimes. The collection was created after Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act in 1990. Reporting is voluntary for citizens but mandatory for federal law enforcement.