On June 9, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) released its annual report on violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals. The report provides the most in-depth information on this topic currently available in the United States.
It shows that LGBTQ and HIV-affected persons of color, transgender individuals, youth, low-income individuals and gay men continue to be disproportionately targeted.
Data was gathered from 16 anti-violence programs across the country including Center on Halsted. The Center on Halsted LGBTQ violence resource line is currently the only LGBTQ-specific program in Illinois to address violence against and within LGBTQ communities. Its services are free and include safety planning, information and referrals, personal, legal and media advocacy, public outreach and education, and crisis counseling. ( Note: Windy City Times unsuccessfully tried several times to reach Julie Walther, chief program officer at Center on Halsted. )
The number of homicides of LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals in the U.S. increased 11 percent from 2013 to 2014. However, some groups continue to be more targeted than others. In particular, transgender individuals, LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities of color, transgender women of color, LGBTQ youth and young adults, low-income LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors, and gay men are disproportionately victimized. In 2014, 80 percent of homicide victims across the country were people of color. Of those individuals, 60 percent were identified as Black and African-American. And half of homicide victims were transgender women of color.
But survivors and victims seem to have a slightly improved relationship with the police. In 2014, 54 percent of survivors reported incidents to the police, an increase of almost 10 percent from 2013. Of those who interacted with law enforcement, 47 percent reported that the officers were courteous, also a 10 percent increase from 2013. However, 27 percent of survivors still reported hostile attitudes and 25 percent of survivors reported indifferent attitudes.
Of the survivors who interacted with the police and experienced police misconduct, 57.38 percent reported being unjustly arrested by the police. In 2014, the case of Eisha Love, a transgender woman from the Chicago area, received national media attention for her 2012 arrest. As reported by Windy City Times last September, Love was placed in a maximum-security, all-male prison after she allegedly ran over her attacker with her car. As indicated in the report, incidents like this may affect the willingness of victims to report crimes to the police. Survivors who experienced hostile encounters with the police also reported verbal abuse, slurs or biased language, sexual violence, excessive force and entrapment by the police. Transgender individuals were six times more likely to experience physical violence at the hands of the police.
When crimes do get reported, they are often not classified by police as bias crimes. In 2014, only 6 percent of violent incidents against LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities were classified as bias crimes. In 2013, 24 percent received a bias classification. As stated in the report, bias classification is crucial to the healing process of many victims and is an important way of acknowledging and documenting phobia.
The majority of perpetrators of hate violence were men and white individuals. In 2014, male aggressors represented 64 percent of reports while aggressors perceived to be white represented 38 percent of reports. Offenders tended to be close in age to the survivors. In nearly half of cases, the attacker was someone the survivor already knew. In 2014, landlords, tenants and neighbors continued to represent the most common category of known offenders. Though most survivors were attacked by one offender, about 30 percent of survivors reported being attacked by two to nine people. In 2014, about 35 percent of incidents of hate violence occurred in a private residence while 29 percent of incidents occurred in public.
The NCAVP has made several recommendations to reduce the level of hate violence including public education, training for first responders, alternative sentencing and anti-violence programs, anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws, accountability for violent behavior, raising the minimum wage, and funding for continued research.
The full report is available at avp.org/storage/documents/Reports/2014_HV_Report-Final.pdf. The Center on Halsted LGBTQ Violence Resource Line can be reached during regular business hours at 773-871-CARE ( 2273 ) or at firstname.lastname@example.org .