Press

Task Force applauds House of Representatives for passing federal hate crimes legislation

Date: 
May 03, 2007

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

WASHINGTON, May 3 —  The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., applauds today’s passage of a transgender-inclusive federal hate crimes measure.  The bill passed by a vote of 237–180. It was introduced 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

“With today’s historic vote and debate, the U.S. House of Representatives said 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, women and people with disabilities. The importance of this cannot be overstated, particularly in light of the venomous defamation campaign that has been waged against the bill by right-wing forces. At long last, justice for our people is within reach.

“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 the Task Force created our groundbreaking Anti-Violence Project in 1982, we have been working to get the federal government to take a stand against this scourge. Until today, little progress has been made in the 17 years since Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, because 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. Local law enforcement authorities who lack the resources or the will to investigate hate crimes will now receive much-needed support from colleagues at federal agencies.

“We particularly thank Congressman John 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. Today’s legislative victory is a testament to Congressman Conyers’ steadfast belief that all victims of hate crimes deserve justice. We also salute Congressmembers Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank for all their work on this bill over the years.”

Background

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA) extends federal authority for investigation and prosecution of hate violence to crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. (Current federal hate crimes law covers crimes motivated by race, religion and national origin.) The bill also removes the existing limitation on federal involvement 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. The Department of Justice will now 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 passed today includes crimes based on a victim’s actual or perceived gender identity. The 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 reported hate crimes identified as transgender.

The Task Force has led the movementwide 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 mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.