Law enforcement agencies in Georgia reported nine hate crimes involving anti-gay bias last year, with six of those occurring in Atlanta, according to the FBI and Atlanta police.
But Georgia agencies fall way behind the national average in reporting hate crimes to the FBI.
Thirty of the 43 hate crimes reported in Georgia – or 70 percent – were motivated by the victim’s race or ethnicity, according to the FBI’s 2018 Hate Crime Statistics report. Four of the crimes – or 10 percent – were motivated by the victim’s religion. The remaining nine incidents – or 20 percent – involved anti-gay bias. The report was released Nov. 12.
No hate crimes motivated by the victim's gender identity were reported by the agencies in Georgia.
Six – or 60 percent – of the 10 hate crimes reported in the City of Atlanta in 2018 involved anti-gay-bias, according to the Atlanta Police Department. The other three anti-gay hate crimes in Georgia were reported in Cobb and Gwinnett counties, and Columbus, according to the FBI report.
The anti-gay hate crimes in Atlanta included a man calling a gay couple “faggots and queens” before assaulting them in a Chick-fil-A drive-through on Piedmont Road, several men making homophobic comments during a fight at the Sound Table on Edgewood Avenue, and a jogger in Piedmont Park telling a man he “hates gays” and would “strangle [his] faggot ass and throw [him] into that lake.” Details of the crimes came from Atlanta police incident reports reviewed by Project Q Atlanta.
In Cobb, the incident involved a man who threatened to kill a lesbian couple in the process of adopting his child, according to Cobb police. The man called the couple “gay bitches” and said no gay couple should raise children.
Project Q has asked Gwinnett and Columbus police for the other two incident reports.
Atlanta police underreport hate crimes
The percentage of Georgia law enforcement agencies that reported 2018 hate crimes to the FBI was far below the national average.
Some 12.6 percent of the over 16,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. reported hate crimes to the FBI in 2018, according to the report. But just 1.8 percent of Georgia’s nearly 500 agencies reported hate crimes to the FBI.
Atlanta police reported two hate crimes in 2018 to the FBI, according to the new report. But Atlanta police added eight more hate crimes to that total after questions from Project Q Atlanta, bringing the total to 10.
The hate crime reports were not being disseminated to the department’s Homeland Security unit properly, according to Sgt. John Chafee.
“We are implementing steps to ensure this problem does not reoccur and we are notifying the FBI of the additional eight incidents so the records are properly updated,” he said.
Some 15.8 percent of the over 7,000 hate crimes in the U.S. were motivated by anti-gay bias, while 1.9 percent were motivated by the victim’s gender identity, according to the report. In Georgia, 20 percent of hate crimes were motivated by anti-gay bias.
Georgia is one of four states without a hate crimes law. A Republican-sponsored, LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes bill passed in the Georgia House this year but stalled in the Senate. It will return for consideration in the 2020 legislative session, which begins in January.
Former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens (second photo) called on the legislature to pass an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes law in July.
Sandy Springs passed an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes ordinance in July.
Dunwoody passed an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policy in June that also requires the city to develop guidelines for identifying, investigating, documenting and reporting hate crimes committed in the city. The policy requires the city to report hate crimes to the FBI.