LGBT Hate Crimes Dip Slightly But Remain the Second Most Common

Crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation dropped 2% in 2016 over the year before but remained the second most common type of hate crime in Los Angeles County according to the annual report of the L.A. County Human Relations Commission.

LACHRC reports that there were 118 sexual orientation hate crimes last year compared to 120 in 2015. Such crimes represented 23% of all hate crimes reported in L.A. County in 2016.

There were 235 crimes committed against people because of their race, ethnicity or national origin (49% of the total last year, also a 2% decline from the year before.) Crimes committed against people because of their religion totaled 101 (21% of the total). Gender-related crimes totaled 39 (8%). There were three crimes related to a disability (1%). Twelve other hate crimes (2%) of the total were for unknown reasons.

Transgender people were most likely of all groups to suffer a violent attack, with 96% of them reporting that. Of hate crimes against gay, lesbian and bisexual people, 76% were violent. A further breakdown shows that lesbians experienced a 92% rate of violence while hate crimes targeting gay men were violent in 80% of the cases.

Hate Crime Examples

Of hate crimes against LGBT people, there was one murder. “A 69 year-old man, Shehadeh Khalil Issa, stabbed his 68 year-old wife to death at their home sometime between March 27 and 29, 2016,” the report says. “On March 29, Issa used a shotgun to kill his 38 year-old openly-gay son, Amir, in front of the house. According to prosecutors, “the murders were motivated by the defendant’s desire to sell the house they all shared and an extreme hatred of his son’s sexuality.” The defendant was tried and found guilty of premeditated multiple murders and a hate crime allegation.

The report calls out details of seven other hate crime incidents. In West Hollywood on July 25, 2016, “a popular gay bar received an anonymous phone call one month after the massacre at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida. The suspect yelled, “Fucking fag!” and said he “would do to you what they did in Orlando.” In another in West Hollywood, on Oct. 5, “a white male and his Asian boyfriend were walking back from a nightclub. Four Latino males got out of a car and confronted them. One of the suspects asked ‘Are you faggots?’ The white victim replied, ‘Yes we are. Leave us the f–k alone!’ One of the suspects punched him in the face. The other three suspects joined in and started punching both victims. The suspects then returned their car and left the scene.”

Another incident mentioned in the report occurred on Aug. 16, 2016, in the Mid-Wilshire area. “A Black male was riding on a bus. He made eye contact with a man who called him ‘Faggot!’ The victim walked to the back of the bus to avoid a confrontation but the suspect followed him and punched him.” And on Sept. 17 in Koreatown, “a black male and a Latino male approached a Latina lesbian at her residence and threatened her with a knife. They told her, ‘We don’t like you faggots in our area. We are going to be keeping an eye out on you and we control the area.’ Police suspected that the suspects are gang members.”

On Jan. 27 in South Los Angeles, “a Latina teenager was walking home from her high school and recognized in a car two white males and one Latino male that had been harassing her for months. Previously they had thrown rocks at her and yelled homophobic slurs. The victim tried to elude them by running through an alley, but the suspects exited their car and chased her. One of the suspects tackled her. The three suspects held her hands and feet. The terrified victim started to cry. One of the suspects produced a pocket knife and cut into her right cheek while yelling, ‘This is what you get, bitch! You little stud!’ The suspects then fled in their vehicle.”

On May 23, in Koreatown, “a Latina married couple was walking and holding hands. A Latino male asked them, ‘What, you’re gay?’ The suspect then pushed the victim on her shoulder and punched her twice in the face. To defend herself, the victim punched the suspect causing him to fall to the ground. While on the sidewalk the suspect grabbed the victim’s leg and bit her. The victim’s wife and another witness jumped on top of the suspect and held him until police arrived.”

And in downtown Los Angeles on May 31, “a white gay married couple was confronted by a white male who called them ‘faggot’ in Russian. The victim took a photo of the suspect with his phone. The suspect responded by punching him in the face, snatching his sunglasses, and running away. The couple tried chasing him, but the suspect escaped.

“As in previous years, there were dramatically different rates of violence based on motivation. 87% of gender motivated crimes were violent, followed by sexual orientation (81%), race (65%), and religion (24%). Of the 3 disability-motivated crimes, 2 were violent.”

The report says that hate crimes increased after the November of Donald Trump as president. “Of the 82 post-election hate crimes, racial and sexual orientation hate crimes increased the most in comparison to the same 54-day period in 2015. Racial hate crimes increased 44% from 32 to 46. Sexual orientation hate crimes rose 53% from 15 to 23.”

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