As the decades pass since the civil rights movement for LGBTQ equality began, each and every year has seen the community closer and closer to obtaining the same rights and protections as the cis-hetero population. Although 2018 felt like a landmark year in LGBTQ progress, however, the facts and figures show that safety for queer folks is not trending in the correct direction.
According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Safety, the number of reported hate crimes due to a sexual orientation bias has doubled in the last year alone. From 2017 to 2018, the number of documented assault and vandalism crimes went from an alarming 15 to an unacceptable 32 hate crimes against LGBTQ people in the Rocky Mountain state.
The Mountain States Against Hate Coalition, which was formed in 2017 to counter hate crimes in Colorado through education and partnership with law enforcement, said more needs to be done to address this alarming trend.
“These hate crimes, which are assaults on the sanctity of human life, shatter our hearts, but should strengthen our eagerness in serving the goal of living in peace together with all,” said Ismail Akbulut, president of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation and member of the coalition. “Further, there is a need for a greater effort to remedy the illnesses of racism, hatred, and bigotry.”
While 32 crimes specifically were committed against members of the queer community, there were a total number of 172 victims of hate crimes based on various bias categories. In order to be categorized as a hate crime, the FBI has defined it as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
In 2017, there were 96 reported crimes that fit into the category of hate crimes in Colorado, which means that in the last year alone, there has been a nearly 56 percent increase in these type of bias-related crimes. This proof that the current climate for all minority and marginalized groups are becoming more susceptible to targeted harassment and violence has many fearing for their safety.
“I wish I could say that I am alarmed by the recent findings, but I am not. Many of us in the LGBTQ community, and especially those who identify as trans women of color, know firsthand how dangerous this world is for queer people,” said Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver).
The most common hate crime offense was intimidation, followed by assault and vandalism, according to the annual crime statistics report. Reporting these types of crimes has become of the utmost importance, as groups like the Mountain States Against Hate Coalition work alongside lawmakers and law enforcement to strategize ways to provide protection for folks in these groups.
Additionally, Representative Herod urges queer folks and other minority groups to take to the ballots this upcoming election and ensure we put the right leaders in place who will fight for and protect all Americans.
“While the climate of hatred and fear coming from this administration is feeding the increase, we are not helpless,” said Herod. “In 2020, we must strengthen reporting requirements and enforcement for bias motivated crimes. We cannot rest until LGBTQ Coloradans have the same rights as everyone else, to live authentically without fear.”