Waymon Hudson

Are Hate Crimes Really Down in Florida?

Filed By Waymon Hudson | November 20, 2007 11:44 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Broward, Florida, hate crimes against LGBT people, Naugle

The Florida State Attorney’s Office reported Monday that the number of hate crimes is down to its lowest level in Florida in the past decade. Broward County, home to the city of Fort Lauderdale and other heavily gay populated areas, tops the state’s list with the most hate-based crimes, however.

What this report fails to mention is the fact that while overall hate crime numbers are down in Florida, hate crimes against gays and lesbians in the most violent categories are up dramatically in our state. So while other groups might be making some small amount of headway (even that is debatable, since many think hate crimes are simply not being reported or prosecuted as much as they should be), the crimes towards the gay community are simply growing more violent and frequent.

It is not surprising that Broward County leads the state in hate crimes. You have people like Mayor Naugle, the Rev. O’Neal Dozier, and the late Rev James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (all of whom have called LGBT people abominations and sinners, some of whom have even called for the execution of gays), based in Broward County. Of course their words of hate will incite violence! This past summer, Naugle and Dozier even appeared on the steps of and inside of City Hall together with “religious leaders” in camouflage outfits, saying they were going to “take the fight against perversion to the streets.”

We also have the statewide ban on gay adoption, as well as a proposed “marriage protection” amendment that will strip away domestic partnership rights (exactly as they are trying to do in Michigan). Also, gender identity and expression are not covered under the hate crimes laws, so those cases are never reported or counted.

All of these institutionalized and government-sanctioned forms of antigay bigotry and homophobia lead to these violent acts and crimes against the LGBT community. The atmosphere of hate says to people that LGBT people are less than human and it is therefore okay to hurt and kill them.

So forgive me if I don’t celebrate this “decline” in hate crimes in Florida as a victory. The reality of everyday life in this state is something completely different.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 20, 2007 1:52 PM

Ah, but what you really need is a surveillance camera on the beach to catch gay men being amorous!

Thank god I can always count on you, Brynn, to make me smile. :)

But you bring up a good point. The surveillance camera proposal from my last post is the exact thing I mean about political “leaders” denigrating LGBT people (i.e.: “we need cameras on the beach to stop the perverted gay men from having sex”), which makes us more likely targets of violence.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 20, 2007 2:17 PM

we need cameras on the beach to stop the perverted gay men from having sex”), which makes us more likely targets of violence.

Exactly! Which is why I brought it up--along with the twisted tax/spending priorities. I was just too lazy to spell it out.

You just like the idea of cameras, Brynn. I can see you have voyeuristic side. :)

But seriously, this kind of trumpeting of "improved" conditions for LGBT in Florida is infuriating.

“I have no doubt we shall win, but the road is long and red with monstrous martyrdoms”.
Oscar Wilde

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, a member of UnitedENDA, says in their 2005 National School Climate Survey that 75. 4% of students heard "faggot" or "dyke" frequently. 37.8% were physically HARASSED because of sexual orientation and 26.1% because of their gender expression. 17.6% OF STUDENTS WERE PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED BECAUSE OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND 11.8% BECAUSE OF THEIR GENDER EXPRESSION.

The US Department of Justice, in its report Hate Crimes on Campus (DOJ Publication NJC187249) says that campus hate crimes usually go unreported. They state that “students report hearing degrading language about women, gays and lesbians on a daily basis…” and that “the use of such language creates an atmosphere that permits conduct to escalate from mere words to stronger words, to threats, and ultimately to violence.”

Young gays and lesbians aren’t the only victims, just the least protected. Violence and harassment against LGBT people as a whole is on the rise again according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, also a member of UnitedENDA. Political and religious bigotry is the immediate and primary cause of violence against lesbians and gays. The usual suspects are the Republican-christian totalitarian axis of evil and Democrats who pander to bigots. Hostility to same-sex marriage is a flashpoint in encouraging violence. When San Francisco briefly allowed same-sex marriages ceremonies violence in that city rapidly spiked with a 14% increase.

In 2007-8 with the elections generating higher levels of hate speech by politicians, priests and preachers these figures and the stats for hate crimes will rise in parallel.

The NCAVP’s and FBI’s counts are just indicators. They don’t include unreported incidents or those disregarded by homophobic police and DA’s.

Malcolm X, before he was murdered, discussed taking the case against racist violence in the US before the UN and the World Court. We’d be doing ourselves a favor stealing a page from his book. Especially since UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour says that “violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is frequently unreported, undocumented and goes ultimately unpunished. … This shameful silence is the ultimate rejection of the fundamental principle of universality of rights. … “ The UN and UnitedENDA want everyone in the LGBT equation protected from violence and discrimination even if Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi can’t stomach the idea.

Whatever the numbers, these beatings, murders and other kinds of abuse are intolerable. These aren’t the Dark Ages and we shouldn’t have to live with that fear.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 20, 2007 2:39 PM

Brynn. I can see you have voyeuristic side. :)

I've clearly been far too revealing about this side of me! ;-0

But you're right, Waymon, the obfuscation is infuriating!!!

I couldn't agree more, Bill. One crime is too many against anyone in our community. It certainly doesn't help, though, when the government and politicians are not realistic and truthful about the hate crimes that are happening. Like the great examples you give, we have to take these crimes out of the shadows and let people know what many LGBT people face on a daily a basis.

There’s nothing a voyeur like more than being revealing, Brynn.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 20, 2007 5:18 PM

There’s nothing a voyeur like more than being revealing, Brynn.