Year In Review: Huge Spike In Gay-Related Violence
"There has definitely been a huge spike. I don't think anybody knows why," Wilchins said.
Since 1992, the Department of Justice, through the FBI, has jointly published an annual report on Hate Crime Statistics. FBI statistics show there were 1,265 hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2007, up from 1,017 two years earlier and 1,239 in 2003. That compares to 3,820 racially motivated incidents in 2007 and 1,400 in which the victim's religion was a factor.
The vast majority of brutality against gays is carried out by young men, usually acting in groups, said Riki Wilchins, executive director of Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a Washington nonprofit that works in schools to address discrimination.
Their victims most often are other young men with feminine demeanors or transgender women, said Wilchins. "These assailants are looking to eradicate and exterminate something that enrages them, and that is what makes them hate crimes," he said.
Many of the incidents that have captured headlines this year — from the February shooting death of a gay teenager at his Southern California middle school to this month's slaying of a Brooklyn man who was fatally beaten while walking arm-and-arm with his brother — fit Wilchins' profile.
Larry King, the 15-year-old shot by a classmate, wore feminine clothing and makeup. Jose Sucuzhanay, 31, was beaten with a baseball bat in Brooklyn and kicked by three men who jumped out of a car yelling anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs.
The unidentified woman who was sexually assaulted in Richmond on Dec. 13 also was jumped by a group. Detectives say she was attacked after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker.
Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of four men who allegedly kidnapped and gang-raped for nearly an hour [the] 28-year-old Richmond woman, who was left naked when they fled in her car.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a network of organizations working to address gay-related violence, has tracked numerous other anti-gay crimes this year. They include the deaths of transgender women in Tennessee and Colorado; an arson that destroyed the home of a 65-year-old gay man in New York, and a spate of street beatings in Seattle's gay district.
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