Anti-gay hate crimes rose about 6 percent in 2007, despite a slight decrease in overall anti-bias incidents last year, according to a report issued Monday by the FBI.
Among the five categories of reported hate crimes, those based on sexual orientation were the third-highest at 1,265, or 16.6 percent. Others included hate crimes motivated by racial bias (3,870, 50.8 percent), religion (1,400, 18.4 percent), ethnicity or national origin (1,007, 13.2 percent) and disability (79, 1 percent).
Of the 7,624 total hate crime incidents, just 13 took place in Georgia, among the lowest totals in the U.S., according to the report. California recorded the highest number of offenses at 1,400.
Those 13 incidents were reported to the FBI by three jurisdictions – the cities of Atlanta and Norcross and Catoosa County. Those jurisdictions reported six hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, four by ethnicity and three by race. All six anti-gay hate crimes were reported in Atlanta.
In 2006, Georgia recorded 13 hate crimes, four of which were motivated by sexual orientation. Two were reported in Atlanta, one in Conyers and one at the University of Georgia.
In 2007, a hate crimes bill that included sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the definition of a hate crime failed to reach the floor of the Georgia Senate. Earlier this year, a bipartisan vote in a state House subcommittee tabled an act calling hate crime laws “repugnant.” The state is one of five, including Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming, without a hate crimes law.
Gay men and lesbians are most likely to be attacked in or near residences or on streets or highways, according to the report. Nearly two-thirds of the reported incidents targeted gay men.
[h4]Hate crimes against gays[/h4]
In 2007, there were 1,460 total offenses motivated by sexual orientation. Nearly one-third of those were simple assaults, followed by intimidation (335), property damage (314) and aggravated assault (242). Other offenses included robbery (53), larceny (23), burglary (16) and murders (5).
Of the anti-gay offenses in 2007, a majority – 864 or 59.2 percent – were aimed at gay men, 362 or 24.8 percent at homosexuals, 184 or 12.6 percent at lesbians and 23 or 1.6 percent at bisexuals. Some 27 or 1.8 percent of the offenses were aimed at heterosexuals.
Nearly one-third of the 1,265 bias attacks – 30.1 percent or 381 — aimed at gay men and lesbians happened in or near residences or homes, 23.9 (302) percent took place on highways or streets, 10.7 percent (135) occurred at schools or colleges and 6.6 (84) percent in parking lots or garages. Some 10.7 (135) percent of the incidents happened in an unknown location.
Some 53 of the incidents took place in a bar or nightclub, 28 at a restaurant, 22 in a field or woods, 20 at a commercial office building and 13 at a convenience store.
[h4]Racial bias remains common motive[/h4]
The FBI report does not compare its data from one year to the next because the number of law enforcement agencies participating in the annual count varies from year to year. But more agencies contributed to the 2007 report than the 2006 report.
The data released Monday is consistent with previous years. Racial bias remained the most common motive, accounting for more than half of all reported hate crimes. Blacks, Jews and gays were the most frequent victims of hate crimes, the report found.
The FBI report is purely statistical and does not assign a cause for the slight overall decrease or increase in anti-gay hate crimes.
More than a third of all hate crime incidents were categorized as vandalism or property destruction. Intimidation was the second most common hate crime, followed by simple assault.
The report was based on data drawn from 13,241 law enforcement agencies nationwide, covering about 85 percent of the nation’s population. By comparison, the broader crime report the FBI puts out every year draws data from about 17,000 law enforcement agencies.
Read the FBI’s full report here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.