Justice

The Disturbing Reality of Hate Crimes in the LGBT Community

June 13th 2016

By:
Kyle Jaeger

It remains unclear if the mass shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub will be officially designated as a hate crime, but statistics show that the LGBT community is far more likely to be victimized by targeted violence than other groups.

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FBI data from 2009 reveals that the "LGBT community suffers from violent hate crimes at levels that are more than eight times their percentage in the population," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Equality Florida, a non-profit civil rights organization, reports that 22 percent of all hate crimes in Florida occur on the basis of sexual orientation.

UCLA illustrated how hate crimes affect LGBT individuals disproportionately.

UCLA

But it's important to remember that these figures likely fail to account for the full scope of hate crime victimization that the LGBT community experiences because, as Northeastern University hate crime expert Jack Levin told the SPLC's Hatewatch in 2013, “The prevalence of hate crimes is vastly underestimated."

A 2013 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that there were about 250,000 hate crimes committed every year between 2007-2011, and only 35 percent were actually reported to police.

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"I think the LGBT community is terrified by the level of violence directed at it, and they are not wrong," Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, told ATTN:. "[The Orlando mass shooting] is by far the most horrific attack we've seen on LGBT people in this country, but it is not for want of trying."

Though officials are investigating the Orlando mass shooting as an act of terror — and there are strong indications that the gunman, Omar Mateen, was motivated by religious extremism, the AP reports — there is no reason that the tragedy can't be both an "act of terror and an act of hate," as President Obama put it.

RELATED: What We Know About the Orlando Victims So Far