Printer Friendly

Hate crimes against gays hurt body and soul.

A recent study of gay men and lesbians shows that hate crimes have a more serious psychological impact on the victim than other crimes. Gregory Herek, a research psychologist at the University of California at Davis, presented his findings at a congressional briefing in November.

The briefing in Washington, D.C., coincided with the country's first White House Conference on Hate Crimes, where President Clinton announced an initiative to expand federal hate-crime laws to include more potential victims, stiffer penalties, and more accurate reporting.

Congress, which created the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, categorizes bias motivated crimes according to victims' sexual orientation; disability; and racial, ethnic, and religious background.

Herek narrowed his study to gay men and lesbians, saying it is "reasonable to expect" that members of other minority groups may be affected similarly.

Herek's study found that levels of psychological distress were higher and lasted longer for gay and lesbian hate-crime victims compared with those victimized by other types of crime. For example, depression, stress, and anger may last as long as five years after a hate-crime incident, he said. But among gay and lesbian survivors of nonbias crimes, these psychological symptoms "dropped substantially" within three to five years of the crime.

The study also found:

* One-fifth of women and more than one-fourth of men said they had experienced a crime or attempted crime based on their sexual orientation.

* One woman in eight and one man in six reported being victimized (assaulted, raped, robbed, or vandalized) because of their orientation in the past five years.

* Hate crimes were less likely than other crimes to be reported to the police. Only 33 percent of hate-crime victims reported the incident to police, compared with 57 percent of the victims of random crimes, Herek said.

* In the year before being surveyed, more than 50 percent of respondents said they were the target of antigay verbal abuse. Nearly 20 percent had been chased, threatened with antigay violence, or both. Sixteen percent reported having been targets of antigay employment discrimination in the previous year.

Herek, noting that some critics believe hate-crime laws are unnecessary, urged Congress not to shrink from its responsibility to create and support laws aimed at protecting targets of bias-motivated crime. "Hate crimes have a special impact on the victim and the victim's community," he said.

Herek's words were echoed by Karen Narasaki from the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. "One reason hate crimes are so important is that the victim intended is really an entire community," she said.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an African American congressman who recounted his experiences with bigotry during the 1960s civil rights battles, said of hate crime, "This is real. It is not something that you just read about. We've got to give the federal authorities more power to not just investigate but prosecute hate crimes."

The Justice Department officials said hate crimes increased to 8,759 in 1996 from 7,947 in 1995. Race was a factor in 63 percent of the cases; religion, 13.9 percent; sexual orientation, 12 percent; and ethnic origin, 11 percent Statistics for people with disabilities were gathered in 1996, but results were not yet available.

Herek's study, "The Impact of Hate Crime Victimization," is available on the Internet at rainbow.
COPYRIGHT 1998 American Association for Justice
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Brienza, Julie
Date:Jan 1, 1998
Previous Article:New York high court rules medical negligence liability may extend to nonpatients.
Next Article:National survey suggests racial disparity in police use of force.

Related Articles
Investigations pending.
Executive order: enough hate already.
Taking it to the people: activists spread Clinton's hate-crimes message to Middle America.
Hate: the crime that's not necessarily a crime.
A step toward protection.
Flirting with disaster: gay bashers sometimes masquerade as barflies looking for a night of passion.
The "hate state" myth.
To live and die in Grant Town.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters