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Anti-LGBTQ homicides nearly doubled in 2017, report finds

by John Paul Brammer /

Fifty-two LGBTQ people were killed last year as a result of hate violence, according to a new report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).

Participants in the second annual Women's March in New York City on Jan. 20, 2018, hold up signs in remembrance of LGBTQ women who were killed.Julie Comptonnull

The number represents a trend in rising violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, according to the LGBTQ anti-violence advocacy organization. Excluding 2016's mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last year was the deadliest year on record for the LGBTQ community, according to the NCAVP, which has been tracking hate-violence homicides since 1996.

The report notes last year saw an 86 percent increase in single-incident, anti-LGBTQ homicides as compared to 2016, where 28 incidents were reported.

"For the purpose of this report, we included homicides where there was information that indicates a strong likelihood that the motivations behind the violence were either primarily or partially related to anti-LGBTQ bias and that was not related to intimate partner violence," Emily Waters, a researcher at the New York City Anti-Violence Project and one of the report's authors, told NBC News.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project coordinates the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

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People of color were disproportionately represented in the findings and constituted the majority of victims. In total, 37 of the 52 victims were people of color. Thirty-one of the victims were black and four were Latinx.

Twenty-seven of the victims were transgender women, and 22 of those victims were transgender women of color. Cisgender (non-transgender) men accounted for 20 of the homicides, most of which were related to "hookup violence," the report states.

“This report is a wake-up call for all of us,” Beverly Tillery, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said in a statement. “Our communities live in an increasingly hostile and dangerous climate."

Tillery also called the uptick in homicides an "epidemic of violence" and said communities must "stand up to the hostile forces that have created this unacceptable climate of hate."

The disturbing rise in violence is concurrent with a rise in hate crimes in general, which rose 5 percent in 2016, compared to the year before, as reported by the FBI. Of the 6,063 incidents involving 7,509 victims the FBI analyzed, 17 percent were targeted for their sexual orientation. Of the 17 percent, most of the victims were gay men.

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Waters called the NCAVP's findings "shocking," adding that the coalition has never released a report solely on homicides before.

"The steady increase of reports of homicides of transgender and gender-nonconforming [people] continues to be alarming," she said. "This year we received a significantly higher number of reports of homicides of cisgender men. We usually receive between four and seven reports each year of cisgender men, and this year we had 20."

It is unclear whether or not the findings were impacted by media and law enforcement being more willing now than in the past to accurately report hate violence against LGBTQ people. Waters said the increase is drastic enough that it is unlikely, and she speculated the current political climate could be contributing to the rise in violence.

"These homicides don’t exist in isolation but rather are a result of the isolation, hate and fear that our communities experience every day," she said.

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