Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hate crime report alarming

A hat tip to Mr. Kleinheider for making us aware of the TBI's 2008 Hate Crime Report.

As we have noted before, this document does not include bias offenses based on gender identity or expression. So the Duanna Johnson case is likely not included in the figures, but the report does include crimes based on "sexual bias."

The reports findings are truly disturbing. In 2006 and 2007, there were 54 sexual bias hate crimes. In 2008 that number jumped to 61, which is an increase of 13%. 25 of the incidents were directed at gay men, 15 directed at lesbians, 18 directed at gays and lesbians (perhaps an attack on a group of people), 1 directed at a straight person, and 2 directed at bisexual persons (p. 5). The victims of sexual bias crimes were young in 2008. 20 of them were between the ages of 18 and 24. 26 of the incidents occurred on a Friday or a Saturday, which makes me think attacks at bars make up a large part of the number.

In 2008 hate crimes took place against gays and lesbians in the following jurisdictions: Anderson County, Cleveland, Collierville, Covington, Dickson, Elizabethton, Franklin, Gordonsville, Hamilton County, Humboldt, Huntland, Johnson City, Knoxville, Lawrenceburg, Memphis, Milan, Millington, Morristown, Oak Ridge, Red Bank, Shelby County, Soddy Daisy, Sparta, Vanderbilt University, Warren County, and Washington County (p. 17).

Not only is this problem clearly on the rise in Tennessee, but it affects rural and urban areas in all three Grand Divisions of our State. Passing the Matthew Shepard Act at the federal level and Rep. Jeanne Richardson and Sen. Beverly Marrero's bill at the state level would help increase the safety of more people in Tennessee.

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