WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released its findings and statistics on hate crimes during 2006. The new findings show that the incidence of bias-motivated crimes increased by eight percent last year. The report also shows that crimes based on sexual orientation made up nearly 16 percent of all reported hate crimes, up from 14 percent in 2005.
A total of 7,722 incidents, involving 9,652 victims and 9,080 offenses, were reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies across the country. Of those, 5,449 offenses were classified as crimes against persons, with intimidation (46 percent) and simple assaults (31.9 percent) accounting for most crimes. Among crimes against property, the overwhelming majority (81 percent) were acts of vandalism or destruction.
Of the 1,472 victims of sexual orientation bias crimes, 62 percent were victims of anti-gay male bias and 13.7 percent were victims of anti-lesbian bias. Twenty percent of sexual orientation bias crimes were reported as general anti-gay bias. Only two percent were reported as anti-heterosexual crimes and only 1.4 percent were reported as anti-bisexual crimes.
The majority of anti-LGBT crimes were committed on roads and streets, followed by homes/residences and schools and colleges.
More than half of the 9,652 victims were targeted because of their race. Of the 7,330 known offenders, 58.6 percent were white and 20.6 percent were black.
North Carolina reported a total of 141 hate crimes and South Carolina reported 128. The majority of crimes reported in both states were listed as cases of intimidation.
Nine anti-LGBT hate crimes were reported in North Carolina, making such crimes the third most common in the state. Twenty-three anti-LGBT hate crimes were reported in South Carolina, topping religious bias as the second most common hate crime.
The new statistics on hate crimes come as Congress is wrapping up details on the Department of Defense Authorization Act, a bill that includes an amendment that would expand hate crimes protections to include crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity and provide local law enforcement with additional resources to combat violent crimes.
“This FBI report confirms what the Human Rights Campaign has known for over a decade — that hate crimes protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community are long overdue,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We urge Congress to send this legislation immediately to the president’s desk, and for the president to sign it into law.”
In May of this year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in a bipartisan vote. The U.S. Senate subsequently approved the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill.
If signed into law, the Act would give the federal government expanded jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute violent crimes based on a person’s race, color, religion or national origin as well as their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability. It also provides assistance to local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence.
Current federal hate crimes law covers only offenses based on a victim’s race, color, religion and national origin.