While the number of hate crimes in America is going down, hate crimes against gays are not, according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Report.In fact, the number of anti-gay crimes rose to 1,256 in 2011 from 1,206 in 1996. The vast majority of those anti-gay hate crimes are against men.
Meanwhile overall hate crime incidents have gone down nearly 30 per cent since 1996.
Hate crime incidents targeting blacks, for example, have steadily decreased since 1996, falling 43 per cent. The same goes for anti-Jewish incidents, which have gone down more than 30 per cent.
So, why, despite an increased support for gay rights, is anti-gay hate crime against men so widespread today?
It could be that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And gay rights progress over the last decade has been nothing short of historic.
So far, gay marriage has been legalized in nine states and the District of Columbia, and three of them — Washington, Maine, and Maryland — let voters decide directly during the November 2012 election.
2011 saw the repeal of the military’s controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
And more recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the defence of Marriage Act, which doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage — meaning gay rights activists could soon claim a victory on the federal stage.
In short, a lot has happened that has stirred up emotions about homosexuality around the country. Still, it’s impossible to know for sure whether the disturbing resilience of anti-gay hate crimes is a reaction to that progress.
As more gays come out of the closet, they might simply be reporting those crimes more often.
In either case, the relatively huge number of reports makes it clear that violent anti-gay sentiment still persists in a nation that’s barreling towards giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexuals.
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