Press

Task Force applauds introduction of federal hate crimes legislation

Date: 
March 20, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

Task Force has long history of working to secure hate crimes protections for LGBT people, including first-ever national reports on hate violence against LGBT people

“At long last, Congress is poised to recognize the reality of hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It’s a disgrace that bigotry and ignorance have prevented Congress from taking real action to address hate crimes for nearly 20 years.”
     — Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

WASHINGTON, March 20 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., applauds today’s reintroduction of a transgender-inclusive federal hate crimes measure in the House by U.S. Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“At long last, Congress is poised to recognize the reality of hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It’s a disgrace that bigotry and ignorance have prevented Congress from taking real action to address hate crimes for nearly 20 years.

“Federal laws embody the values of our nation and through this legislation Congress will say clearly and unequivocally that the people of this country reject and condemn all forms of hate violence, including crimes motivated by hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The symbolic importance of this cannot be overstated, particularly in light of the venomous disinformation campaign that has been waged against the bill by right-wing forces.

“No one can deny the reality of hate violence against LGBT people — in fact, almost everyone has seen it firsthand growing up. For the last 25 years, since we created our groundbreaking Anti-Violence Project in 1982, we have been working to get the federal government to take a stand against this scourge. Sadly, little progress has been made in the 17 years since Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. Why? The hard but real answer is that right-wing forces would rather see anti-LGBT crimes go unaddressed by law enforcement than have the words ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ appear alongside other protected classes in federal law. 

“This bill is important for the entire country because it adds or improves federal hate crimes protections based on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

“We look forward to working with members of Congress, our members and our allies across the country to pass this legislation. We particularly thank Rep. Conyers, whose steady and stellar leadership to end the epidemic of hate crimes against our communities dates back to 1986, when he conducted the first-ever congressional hearing on the issue.”   

Background

U.S. Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are chief sponsors of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA), which would extend federal authority for investigation and prosecution of hate violence to those crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. (Current federal hate crimes law cover crimes motivated by race, religion and national origin.) The bill would also remove the limitation on federal involvement under existing law that a victim of a bias-motivated crime must have been attacked because the victim was engaged in a specific federally protected activity such as serving on a jury or attending public school. If this legislation is enacted into law, the Department of Justice will have the authority to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies in addressing all forms of hate violence.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are disproportionately affected by hate violence. According to the FBI, 14 percent of hate crime victims in 2005 were victims of crimes motivated by hatred of lesbian, gay or bisexual people. Moreover, reports produced by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1984–1993) and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (1994–present) have documented more than 35,000 anti-LGBT crimes over the last 22 years. It is important to note that these statistics are based on reports from only a handful of local LGBT crime victim assistance agencies.

The version of the hate crimes bill introduced today includes crimes based on a victim’s actual or perceived gender identity. This is the first time a transgender-inclusive bill has been introduced in the United States Senate. This clear inclusion of transgender people in hate crimes laws is especially important because violence against transgender people is widespread, largely underreported, and disproportionately greater than the number of transgender people in society. In 2005, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported that 11 percent of the 2,306 victims of hate crimes identified as transgender.

The Task Force has led the movement-wide effort to secure an effective and full governmental response to hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, beginning with the launch of its groundbreaking anti-violence project in 1982. Task Force organizing, coalition building and lobbying resulted in the 1990 passage of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers.

Additional resources for media

Learn more about the Task Force’s groundbreaking and longtime work to secure hate crimes protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. ("NGLTF, Inc."), founded in 1974, works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. NGLTF, Inc. is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc. are not tax-deductible.