In early 2007, a man walked into a Loring Park gay bar asking for change for the bus. As he waited for his change, a patron at the bar struck up a conversation with the man. The man looking for bus fare soon realized he was in a gay bar and quickly left. A few minutes later he walked back in, approached the patron and began to beat him while shouting anti-gay slurs. It was a frightening scene. I was standing five feet away.
A report (pdf) by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released Tuesday shows that it wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact, violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans increased sharply in 2007 in Minnesota.
The report shows a 135-percent increase in incidents of anti-LGBT violence compared to 2006, but other numbers are equally disturbing.
In all, there were a total of 161 incidents in Minnesota in 2007. The number of victims who had to seek extended medical care or hospitalization as a result of injuries sustained jumped 200 percent, felony-level assaults increased dramatically (327 percent) and assaults were more often carried out by groups of individuals than in the previous year, an increase of 125 percent.
Also troubling: sexual violence against LGBT people increased by an alarming 750 percent. The report’s authors note that this “shows that there is often a social willingness to not only threaten harm but to humiliate victim/survivors in the most personal and degrading ways.”
The report noted over the course of 2007, incidents appeared to mirror political events, particularly the push for a constitutional amendment barring legal recognition of same-sex couples:
With this harsh political spotlight on the GLBT community in the early part of 2007, reported incidents of hate- and bias-related violence dropped dramatically during the legislative session but immediately began a sharp increase as the legislative session came to a close. We understand that this decrease and then marked increase in reporting is not a phenomenon specific to Minnesota but rather a somewhat common occurrence during similar political circumstances in other states.
Nationally, the statistics were compiled based on victim self-reporting to anti-violence programs. The report only counts those who seek assistance from such programs and does not include law enforcement reports. It only includes reports from Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Columbus, Ohio, and Kansas City, Mo., as well as Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Nationwide in 2007, there were 2,430 victims who reported anti-LGBT violence. Bats, clubs and other blunt objects were the most commonly used weapons. Firearms were involved in 11 percent of assaults. Six percent of victims identified themselves as heterosexual.
There were 21 deaths attributed to anti-LGBT violence in 2007, the highest number since 1999.
To learn more about anti-LGBT violence or to report anti-LGBT incidents visit OutFront Minnesota’s Anti-Violence Program.