Press

NGLTF Urges Greater Federal Action To Curb Hate Crimes

Date: 
January 09, 1998

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the nation's oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) advocacy organization today urged Congress to expand the federal mandate for prosecution of hate crimes so that crimes against people because of sexual orientation are prosecuted like all other hate crimes.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S 1529 and HR 3081) would add hate crimes based on an individual's real or perceived sexual orientation to the list of bias crimes that the federal government can prosecute. NGLTF sent this message on the day that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released it's annual report on Hate Crime Statistics for 1996.

"Our nation strives for fair and equal treatment for everyone," said Kerry Lobel, NGLTF Executive Director, "no one should be a target for bias motivated violence because of their sexual orientation. Congress must follow the lead taken by twenty-one states and the District of Columbia to do their part in ending these crimes."

The FBI report noted 8,759 total reported hate crimes in 1996. Of that total, 1,016 were based on the victim's sexual orientation. This is a higher total than the 7,947 incidents report in 1995. However, 1995 had three more (1,019) crimes based on sexual orientation. Lobel compared these numbers to a report recently released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects. That 1996 national report shows a six percent increase in hate crimes against GLBT people in ten U.S. cities with large GLBT populations. She pointed out that the discrepancy between these and FBI figures could be attributed to a number of factors.

"GLBT people often do not report hate crimes based on their sexual orientation because of their fear of discrimination by police; lack of interest or diligence on the part of the police; and lack of training in many police departments in working with members of the GLBT community."

NGLTF sponsored a nine-city hate crimes tour through the heartland in 1997. During community forums, Lobel heard dozens of stories of hate violence targeted at GLBT people and got hundreds of people to sign petitions urging President Clinton to take additional steps to address the high number of hate crimes against GLBT persons. She delivered those petitions to the Administration at last November's White House Summit on Hate Crimes.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.