Hate Crimes & the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA)


INDEX

  1. Hate Crime: A Definition
  2. Hate Crimes & Our Society
  3. Hate Crimes & Their Impact
  4. The Hate Crimes Prevention ACT (HCPA)
  5. Currently Federal Law does not include sexual orientation
  6. Federal Laws do not go far enough
  7. Hate Crimes: Statistics
  8. Hate Crimes: States
  9. HCPA: Support
  10. Statement from the President of the AFL-CIO
  11. Hate Crimes target our communities
  12. Tougher laws are needed to ensure justice
  13. Anti-LGBT hate crimes are on the rise
  14. Current state laws are inadequate
  15. Section 245 of Title 18 U.S.C. (Primary Statute used to comba racial and religious hate violence)
  16. Taking action against hate crimes!
  17. For further information on Hate Crimes contact

Hate Crime: A Definition

A crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim because of the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, gender expression or identity, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.

Hate Crimes & Our Society

Violent crime has been declining throughout the United States in recent years, yet hate crimes against LGBT people continue to rise. In 1997, at least 18 lives were lost as a result of anti-LGBT violence. There were a total of 1,375 reported violent crimes against LGBT individuals. Further the societal costs of hate crimes, in terms of self-esteem, productivity, and public expense, are incalculable.

Hate Crimes & Their Impact

Hate crimes send a message that certain groups of us are not welcome and unsafe in a particular community. As a result, studies indicate that hate crimes appear to have more serious psychological effects on the victims and the communities they represent than do other crimes. Research indicates that victims of hate crimes often link their vulnerability to their personal, cultural, or spiritual identity. The result is that victims of hate crimes often suffer greater emotional trauma than other crime victims.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) would strengthen the ability of the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes based on race, color, national origin, and religion and give the Department the power to prosecute certain hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability.

Current Federal Law Does not Include Sexual Orientation

Currently, hate crimes are prosecuted under § 245 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Section 245 protects individuals from violence only on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and color. This law does not protect individuals on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Federal Laws Do Not Go Far Enough

Section 245 of Title 18 of the US Code only permits federal prosecution of hate crimes for intentional interference with the enjoyment of a federal right or benefit, such as voting. Thus, when the government prosecutes a hate crimes offender, it must prove that the crime occurred (1) because the victim was enjoying a federally protected activity, and (2) because of the victim's membership in a particular group. This is a difficult burden which has prevented investigation and prosecution of numerous hate crimes. In fact, since 1969 there have never been more than 10 indictments brought under § 245 in any given year. In contrast the proposed legislation, the HCPA, would completely remove the first requirement and expand the second requirement to include the categories of sexual orientation, gender and disability.

The only other federal law in existence which addresses prosecution of hate crimes against LGBT people is the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act (Sec. 28003 of the Violent Crime Control Act and Law Enforcement Act of 1994). This Act increases the sentence an offender receives, on average, by one-third, for crimes which are proven beyond a reasonable doubt to manifest prejudice against a member of a protected class. However, federal law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdiction over these anti-LGBT hate crimes unless the occur on federal property, such as a national park. Without jurisdiction they cannot investigate and prosecute those committing anti-gay crimes.

Hate Crimes: Statistics

Lesbian & Gays are the Third-Highest Targeted Group for Hate Crimes*

Category 1997 Reported Incidents Percentage
Total 8,049 %
Race 4,710 58.5%
Religion 1,385 17.2%
Sexual Orientation 1,102 13.7%
Ethnicity/National Origin 836 10.4%
Disability 12 0.15%
Multiple Bias Incidents 4 0.05%

Percentage of Hate Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation, 1991-1997

Year
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
Total Hate Crime Incidents Reported
4,588
6,623
7,587
5,932
7,947
8,759
8,049
Hate crimes based on sexual orientation
---**
767
860
685
1,019
1,016
1,102
Percentage of crimes based on sexual orientation
8.9%
11.6%
11.3%
11.5%
12.8%
11.6%
13.7%

Reported Hate Crimes Against Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals - 1997

Sexual Orientation
Incidents
Offenses
Victims
Known Offenders
Total
1,102
1,375
1,401
1,315
Anti-Male Homosexual
760
912
927
1,032
Anti-Female Homosexual
188
229
236
158
Anti-Homosexual
133
229
236
158
Anti-Hetrosexual
12
14
14
14
Anti-Bisexual
9
10
10
8

 

Hate Crimes: States

Hate Crimes Laws
That Include
"Sexual Orientation":


22 States plus the
District of Columbia:

Arizona
California
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Illinois
Iowa
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
Oregon
Rhode Island
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin



 

 

**Last updated July 1999

Hate Crimes Laws
That Exclude
"Sexual Orientation":


20 States:


Alabama
Alaska
Colorado
Idaho
Maryland
Michigan
Mississippi
Montana
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas*
Utah*
Virginia
West Virginia

*The Texas statute refers to victims selected "because of the defendant's bias or prejudice against a person or group," and the Utah statute ties penalties for hate crimes to violation of the victim's constitutional or civil rights.


No Hate
Crimes Laws
for Anyone:


8 States:


Arkansas
Georgia
Hawaii
Indiana
Kansas
New Mexico
South Carolina
Wyoming























 

Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA): Support

"All Americans deserve protection from hate. Nothing is more important to our country's future than our standing together against intolerance, prejudice and violent bigotry. Congress can give power to such shared values by passing the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. In so doing, all Americans can be more safe and secure."

President Bill Clinton (March 5, 1999)

"As state attorneys general, we are writing to express our enthusiastic support for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1529, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1998… The amendment to 18 U.S.C. Section 245 would provide invaluable tools for the United States Department of Justice and United States Attorneys to combat hate crimes effectively. Therefore, we strongly urge passage of this important hate crime legislation."

22 State Attorneys General (March 5, 1998)

"Hate crimes are perpetrated against a group of people, not an individual… It is a form of domestic terrorism. On behalf of my family, I call on the Congress of the United States to pass this legislation right away. There is no guarantee that these laws will stop hate crimes from happening. But they can reduce them… They can help change the climate in this country, where some people feel it is okay to target specific groups of people and get away with it."

Matthew Shepard's Mother Judy Shepard (March 23, 1999)

 

Statement from the President of the AFL-CIO

For Immediate Release

For more information:
Denise Mitchell
831/647-2170
or
202/637-5018

Statement by John J. Sweeney President, AFL-CIO
on the
Hate Crimes Prevention Act
October 12, 1998

Our nation was horrified earlier this year by the murder of James Byrd, an African American man who was chained to his pickup truck and dragged to his death in Texas. Now we are reminded that hate crimes have no permanent address by the slaughter of Matthew Shepard, a white, gay student at the University of Wyoming.

The 40 million members of AFL-CIO union households in this country are outraged by these cold-blooded killings, which appear to be based solely on the color of one man's skin and the sexual orientation of another. We condemn the crimes, as well as the criminals who committed them.

But words are not in and of themselves an appropriate response to these heinous acts and others like them which seem to be increasing in numbers and in savagery - we must demand that the United States Congress act promptly to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

This Act would expand the existing hate crimes law to cover victims who were not engaged in federally protected activity such as voting or going to school, and would extend protection to those attacked on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Congress should pass this law immediately to help prevent further tragedies from occurring.

Hate Crimes: Target our Communities

Of the 7,947 hate crime incidents reported to the FBI in 1995, sixty percent - 4,831- were motivated by race. Of these, 2,988 were anti-black, 1,226 were anti-white, 355 were directed against Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders, 221 were directed against multi-racial groups, and 41 were directed against Native Americans or Alaskan Natives.

Second to racially motivated hate crimes were hate crimes motivated by religious bigotry - 1,277 incidents in 1995. Of these, 1,058 - approximately 82% - were directed against Jews.

The third major category of hate crimes, accounting for 1,019 incidents in 1995, was motivated by animus against the victims' sexual orientation. Of these, 735 were directed against male homosexuals and 146 against lesbians.

The fourth category - ethnicity/national origin - accounted for 814 incidents with sixty three percent (516) directed toward Hispanics.

Little or no documentation exists on hate crimes against women or transgender people because they are women or transgender, but women and transgender people of all races and ethnic groups, and all social classes are indeed targets of hate crimes.

Tougher Laws are needed to ensure Justice

When Americans are assaulted merely because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, or disability, the law should be as tough on their assailants as it currently is tough on criminals who attack based on racial, religious, or ethnic bias. Yet only in rare circumstances can the federal government investigate and prosecute hate violence against gays, lesbians, or bisexuals.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) would amend current federal law to include real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, and disability so the FBI would be able to investigate and prosecute violent hate crimes against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Current law already allows investigation and prosecution on the basis of race, religion, national origin and color.

Anti-LGBT hate crimes are on the rise

Hate crimes committed against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals make up the third-highest category of hate crimes reported to the FBI, currently representing almost 14% of all hate crimes reported.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), an umbrella organization for local groups that monitor anti-gay violence, reported that while violent crime continues to decrease nationally, the number of actual or suspected anti-gay murders in reporting cities, states and regions was 33 in 1998, up from 14 a year before.

Current state laws are inadequate

Only 22 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation-based crimes in their hate crimes statutes. Because the majority of states don't have laws protecting all Americans, the Federal government needs to have jurisdiction to allow local, state, and federal authorities the opportunity to work together to ensure that justice is achieved in every case.

The HCPA would amend Section 245 of Title 18 U.S.C., one of the primary statutes used to combat racial and religious hate violence. It would:

1) Provide new authority for federal officials to investigate and prosecute cases in which the hate violence occurs because of the victim's real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, or disability;

and,

2) Remove the overly-restricted obstacles to prosecution by eliminating the current proof requirement that the victim was attacked because he or she was engaged in a federally-protected activity, such as going to vote.

Taking Action Against Hate Crimes!

Call and write

your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to vote for the Kennedy-Leahy-Schumer-G. Smith-Wyden Hate Crimes Amendment and to become a cosponsor of the HCPA if they are not one already.

your Representative at (202) 224-3121or http://www.house.gov/writerep/ and ask them to vote for hate crimes legislation and to become a cosponsor of the HCPA if they are not one already.

your local law enforcement authority and ask them to provide diversity and sensitivity training in an effort to provide better treatment towards victims of hate crimes who often end up feeling victimized by law enforcement as well.

your union leaders and ask them to speak out against all hate crimes and to dedicate energies and resources to the struggle for eliminating hate crimes including passing legislation like HCPA.

your local newspaper and ask the people in your community to speak out against all hate crimes and to dedicate energies and resources to the struggle for eliminating hate crimes including passing legislation like HCPA.

your union newsletter and ask the members of your union to speak out against all hate crimes and to dedicate energies and resources to the struggle for eliminating hate crimes including passing legislation like HCPA.

Initiate: and/or intensify efforts to promote respect for diversity and to expose intolerance, hate speech, and bigotry throughout your community (i.e. church, family, school, and clubs).

Organize: and/or participate in demonstrations, marches, and vigils in response to hate crimes.

Join Pride At Work: and support our coalition work and mobilization efforts.

For further information on Hate Crimes contact:

Hate Crimes Prevention Center
1629 K St., NW
Washington, DC 20006
http://civilrights.org/lcef/hate/toc.html
Sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF)

Nat'l Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
24 West 35th Street
New York, NY 10001
212-714-1184 (phone)
212-714-1142 (24 hours)
http://www.avp.org/ncavp/members.htm

Sexual Orientation: Science, Education and Policy
summarizes research by Gregory Herek, including research on the effects of
anti-LGTBH hate crimes on individuals
http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/hate_crimes.html

Other groups combating hate crimes

AN INJURY TO ONE IS
AN INJURY TO ALL

[Top of Page]