Nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias, FBI finds

Of the incidents involving sexual-orientation bias, 60 percent targeted gay men.
By Tim Fitzsimons

Of the 7,120 hate crime incidents reported in 2018, more than 1,300 — or nearly 19 percent — stemmed from anti-LGBTQ bias, according to the FBI’s latest Hate Crime Statistics report.

According to the FBI data, of the nearly 1,200 incidents targeting people due to their sexual orientation, the majority targeted gay men (roughly 60 percent), while approximately 12 percent targeted lesbians, 1.5 percent targeted bisexuals, 1.4 percent targeted heterosexuals and the remaining incidents targeted a mixed group of LGBTQ people. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people were the targets in 168 reported incidents, approximately 2.4 percent of all reported hate crime incidents last year.

When compared to 2017, the number of reported incidents targeting the LGBTQ community increased from 1,217 to 1,347, jumping from roughly 17 percent to 19 percent of each year's total number of reported hate crime incidents.

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In particular, reports of anti-trans violence is growing: Between 2017 and 2018, the number of these reported incidents increased 34 percent.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community is estimated by Gallup to comprise 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, yet according to the FBI’s newly released report, they comprise 18.5 percent of hate crime victims.

While the 7,120 overall reported hate crime incidents recorded in 2018 are slightly fewer than in 2017, both years represent historically high levels of reported hate crimes, with only 2008 recording more in the past decade: 7,783. In 2014, hate crimes hit a decade-low rate of 5,479 incidents.

Another noteworthy trend is that reported hate crimes increasingly targeted people (like assault) instead of property (like vandalism), even as the nation enjoys continued decreases in both violent and property crimes.

In 2018, nearly 66 percent of hate crime offenses were directed toward people, while 31 percent were directed toward property. In 2017, 60 percent of hate crimes were directed toward people, while 37 percent were directed toward property.

According to FBI data released in September, this goes against overall nationwide crime trends. In 2018, the national violent crime rate fell 4 percent compared to 2017, while the property crime rate declined 7 percent.

According to this latest report, Jewish and black communities continue to shoulder a disproportionate percentage of federally reported hate crimes: Jewish people comprise an estimated 2 percent of the U.S. population but make up 10 percent of hate crime victims, and the black community is an estimated 13.4 percent of the U.S. population but makes up 26 percent of hate crime victims.

The FBI's Hate Crime Statistics report tells just part of the story. Of the 16,039 law enforcement agencies across the country that voluntarily participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program, only 2,026 reported any hate crime incidents at all, according to the FBI. The state of Alabama, for example, did not report a single hate crime in all of 2018.

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