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LGBT-related murder rates at all-time high
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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A coalition of LGBT anti-violence groups has reported its highest rate of LGBT murders ever, in a new report that reflects 2011.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), anti-LGBTQ and HIV-related murders are up 11 percent from last year, with a total of 30 reported murders.

"This violence is more pervasive and deadly than people recognize," said Chai Jindasurat of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

At the same time, reports of hate violence overall have dropped by 16 percent.

Overwhelmingly, murder victims were people of color, making up 87 percent of hate-motivated murders. However, they only made up 49 percent of survivors and victims in the study.

Transgender women made up 40 percent of the murders, while accounting for just 10 percent of overall survivors.

In total, the 11 percent increase in reports was due to just three more reported murders than 2012. But NCAVP advocates believed that those numbers are falsely low.

"What we are documenting is probably the tip of the iceberg," said Ejeris Dixon, of the New York City Anti-Violence Project. The number of murders is based both on reports that NCAVP receives directly as well as incidents reported in the news, but many bias-related murders never make headlines and largely go unreported to advocates.

LGBT advocates also speculate that the decrease in reported hate incidents is the not the result of less violence overall.

"We don't feel that it's a decrease in violence," said Jindasurat. "We feel that it's a decrease in reports."

Anti-violence projects around the country have been hard-hit by the economy, said Jindasurat, hindering their ability to do outreach. As a result, advocates speculate that the decrease in reported incidents reflects a decrease in interactions between NCAVP and survivors, not a waning of violence.

Additionally, just 52 percent of survivors reported hate incidents to police, a number that is slightly up from 2010 when 47 percent of survivors reported to police.

The report also offers a snapshot of Chicago using data from the Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted.

According to that information, reports of hate violence in 2011 decreased by 41 percent from 2010, dropping from 124 to 73. The report attributes the disparity between the two years to a fluctuation in media coverage. When bias-related violence is in the news more, reports of violence tend to go up, the report notes.

In Chicago, physical violence and verbal harassment in person accounted for most of the incidents of violence, with each making up 33 percent of all reports. Sexual violence accounted for 9 percent of incidents, while murders made up 2 percent.

Thirty-one percent of violent incidents occurred at private residences in Chicago, while workplaces accounted for 18 percent. Fourteen percent of reported incidents occurred on the street.

The overall study showed that people of color were more than three times as likely to need medical attention for bias-related attacks than the overall sample but were more than twice as likely to see their attacks classified as a hate crimes by officials.

The latter statistic contradicted the expectations of NCAVP members, leading researchers to conclude that "it may be linked to the severity of hate violence that LGBTQH people of color experience," the report states. "NCAVP members regularly observe that severe forms of violence can increase the possibility of law enforcement classifying the incident as a hate crime."

Transgender people of color were 28 percent more likely to experience violence than those who were not trans people of color. People under the age of 30 were also far more likely to have experienced violence as were undocumented people.

The majority of offenders were white at 51 percent, up from 42 percent in 2010.

The report concludes with suggestions that policymakers enact anti-discrimination measures, denounce homophobic language and implement fun resources for LGBTQ and HIV-positive people, among other things.

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