Thursday, June 17, 2010

Statistics Canada: Hate Crimes Against Gays Have Doubled

June 17, 2010

[Ottawa, Canada] The number of anti-gay hate crimes, particularly violence against homosexual males, increased dramatically in 2008, according to new figures released on June 14 by Statistics Canada. The study found the number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation more than doubled in 2008 compared to the previous year and were more likely to involve violence than racially and religiously motivated attacks.

In fact, three-quarters of all hate crimes against homosexuals involved violence, compared with 38 per cent of racially motivated crimes and a quarter of religiously motivated crimes. Men accounted for 85 per cent of the victims and most of the incidents occurred in Toronto and Vancouver, the study found.

While the increase is likely due to more reporting of incidents to police, Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada said it's an alarming reality that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered Canadians know all too well and that governments can no longer ignore. "Reports of incidents have gone up and I think that's directly related to some of the training we're doing with the police and to engage the community to try and encourage people to report these incidents," she said, noting an estimated 75 per cent of cases still go unreported. "We've known for years and years that we have a big problem with violence against the LGBT community . . . and I don't think the government can continue to sweep this under the carpet and say that we have great legislation in Canada to protect LGBT communities (when) the reality is that we're not."

The Statistics Canada figures suggest young people between the ages of 12 and 22 are responsible for six in 10 hate crimes; the majority of those accused being 17 or 18.

Kennedy said that's consistent with Egale's own research and suggested efforts to reverse this alarming trend need to begin in schools. Teachers need to be better trained in how to deal with anti-gay incidents that arise in classrooms and school corridors and young people need resources to be able to defend themselves and speak openly, she said. "We need curriculum that reflects kids with queer parents . . . We need curriculum that addresses the LGBT community through history," she added. "There's a ton of work that needs to be done in this area."