Drop in hate crime numbers due to program cuts
A national anti-violence coalition released a report this week that shows declines in the reported number of hate crime victims and survivors, incidents and offenders in 2009.
However, those reported drops since 2008 are likely due to many programs facing budget cuts and staff layoffs, rather than an actual decrease in violence, according to the report.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released "Hate Violence Against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Communities in the United States in 2009" on Tuesday, July 13.
The San Francisco-based Community United Against Violence is one of the member organizations that contributed to the report. The coalition works to address violence committed against the LGBTQ and HIV-positive communities.
CUAV's data appears to reflect what's going on across the country.
According to data CUAV listed in the report, there were 208 reported incidents in 2009, down from 274 the previous year.
There were 129 survivors/victims last year, down from 274 in 2008; and 155 offenders in 2009, a steep drop from 791 in 2008, the data show.
But CUAV has faced a funding shortfall in the last year, with the organization previously stating its budget for 2009-2010 at around $650,000, down from about $950,000 in 2008. The agency, which adjusted to budget cutbacks and a new strategic plan by reconfiguring its staff and services, reduced a number of staff positions.
In a conference call Tuesday announcing the report's release, CUAV's Maria Carolina Morales noted there continues to be "severe and persistent violence" against LGBTQ communities. She added people of color, transgender women, and others continue to be disproportionately targeted for violence."
Nationally, according to the report, 22 anti-LGBTQ murders were reported last year, representing a 30 percent decline from the peak year of 2008.
That's still the second-highest annual total of such incidents reported in the country over a 10-year period, the report said.
People of color accounted for 79 percent of the murder victims. Fifty percent of those murdered were transgender women, according to the report.
Fifteen National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs member organizations collected data for the report.
Another topic discussed Tuesday is the notion of increased LGBTQ visibility leading to more violence against the communities.
According to the report, the highest monthly incident rate of anti-LGBTQ violence was in October 2009, when President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. The legislation marked the first time that sexual orientation and gender identity were recognized as protected categories under federal law.
The report makes several recommendations. One is to increase local, state, and federal funding for anti-violence work and maintain and enhance private donor support for community-led initiatives.
Another recommendation is to enhance governmental and institutional support for researching and reporting anti-LGBTQ hate violence and include LGBTQ people in on-going research.
To see the full report, go to www.avp.org.