America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has revealed an alarming increase in hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
This surge has raised serious concerns among rights groups, who argue that it is exacerbated by hateful rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Statistics reflect a troubling trend
The FBI’s annual crime report paints a grim picture of the situation. It confirms a 13.8% increase in reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation compared to the previous year. Even more significantly, there was a disturbing 32.9% rise in reported hate crimes based on gender identity.
Race and ethnicity-motivated hate crimes still dominated, accounting for 56% of all reported hate crimes. Religious bias-based hate crimes moved into second place, just ahead of those targeting sexual orientation.
According to the FBI’s findings, anti-LGBTQ+ bias now motivates more than one in five hate crimes. Shockingly, it is Black transgender women who face the highest risk of violence in these hate crimes.
Human Rights Campaign Expresses Concern
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ+ rights group in the United States, expressed shock upon reviewing the FBI’s report, although they noted that the increase was not entirely unexpected.
HRC President Kelley Robinson highlighted the role of hostile rhetoric and discriminatory legislation. She stated, “The constant stream of hostile rhetoric from fringe anti-equality figures, alongside the relentless passage of discriminatory bills, particularly those targeting transgender individuals, in state legislatures, created an environment where it was sadly foreseeable that individuals with violent tendencies might respond to this rhetoric.”
Robinson emphasised the urgency of the situation, saying, “The FBI’s data serves as another alarming indicator of the state of emergency our community finds itself in.”
She also pointed out that the reported numbers are unlikely to represent the full extent of the crisis. Robinson explained, “We also know that this data is incomplete, that too many cities and states are reporting incomplete data, or even no data at all, on hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. If we’re going to bring a stop to that violence, we need a full accounting of just how many hate crimes are taking place – and that requires every jurisdiction stepping up.”
The need for improved reporting
The FBI’s report reveals 1,947 incidents related to an alleged victim’s sexual orientation in 2022, up from 1,711 the previous year. Moreover, there were 469 reported incidents relating to an alleged victim’s gender identity, compared to 353 the year before.
Within the gender identity category, there were 338 instances specifically targeting transgender individuals and 131 cases that targeted those who were gender nonconforming.
Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate crimes
The release of the FBI’s report coincides with an unprecedented surge in anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation, with more than 550 bills introduced in 43 states and more than 80 bills signed into law. This constitutes a doubling of figures from the previous year, which was already the worst year on record.
The spike in harmful and discriminatory legislation, alongside an increase in anti-transgender rhetoric and violence, led HRC to declare a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States in June.