Study finds gays mistreated just as much as other minorities

Here’s a new piece I did for the Advocate:

    Report: Hate-crimes rate for LGBs comparable to other minorities

A new report released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law shows that the rate of bias crimes committed against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals is comparable to that of other groups already covered by federal hate-crimes laws. The “Comparison of Hate Crime Rates Across Protected and Unprotected Groups” report shows that on average, 13 in 100,000 gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals per year report being the victim of a hate crime, compared to eight in 100,000 African-Americans, 12 in 100,000 Muslim Americans, and 15 in 100,000 Jewish Americans.

“Often people try to pass off [the lack of legal protection for gays] as ‘Oh, it’s not as big a problem as race-based hate crimes,’ ” says Rebecca Stotzer, a research fellow at the Williams Institute. “But when you actually look at the rates and you think of it as a risk per person, you can see that the numbers are actually much more even between groups that are protected versus those that are not.”

The new report was based on a 2004 study by Williams Institute faculty chairman William Rubenstein, but current hate-crimes legislation before Congress and the availability of more data prompted an update to the report. The U.S. Senate is presently considering the Matthew Shepard Act, which would extend legal protections to LGBT people; an identical bill passed the House of Representatives last month. The bill proposes expanding current federal hate-crimes laws to include actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. Current law identifies only race, color, religion, and national origin as protected categories.

“This report’s findings provide a new perspective that should inform policy makers who are deciding whether to include hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in federal hate-crime laws,” noted M.V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute. “The numbers show that hate crimes remain a serious problem for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities.” (Padraic Wheeler, The Advocate)

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