Silencing the Violence against our LGBTQ Communities
This post is part of our Silence the Violence series in commemoration of National Silence the Violence Day on July 24th, 2010.
For most people, it might seem that its a lot safer and easier to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) in our country than it was even 5 years ago. Gains have been made in partner recognition through marriage equality and civil unions in several states. We have the very first President to regularly include LGBTQ people and families in celebrations and policies. And television, movies and music are booming with more positive and realistic images of LGBTQ folks and culture.
Sadly, however, the news is not all positive. With all the heightened awareness and visibility of our community comes backlash. Last week, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a report with some unsettling findings:
This poster is part of the GSA Network's Liberation Ink, youth-designed, poster series. Click the image to learn more.
- Hate-based Murders of LGBTQ individuals are at the second-highest rate in a decade;
- NCAVP witnessed a large spike in anti-LGBTQ violence at the time of federal hate crimes law passage; and
- Economic crisis depletes resources for LGBTQ survivors of violence.
Anti-LGBTQ hate violence continues to be a pervasive social problem at the same time as vital resources and support for hate violence survivors are at risk amidst economic crisis. This year, 22 victims of hate murder were reported by NCAVP, the second-highest rate in a decade, reflecting a pattern of severe and persistent violence against LGBTQ communities.
Notably, NCAVP saw the highest spike in reported incidents of violence in October 2009, coinciding with the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This statistic seems to reflect a correlation between increased visibility and increased vulnerability and targeting. Despite these disturbing trends, financial support and much needed services for hate violence survivors have only declined due to ongoing economic conditions.
Of the 22 reported hate murder victims in 2009, 79% were people of color, and most were transgender women or were feminine-presenting. This statistic indicates how important continued education and resource building for trans communities and LGBTQ communities of color are across the United States.
NCAVP’s report strongly recommends that the federal and state governments and criminal legal systems support anti-violence programs by ceasing cutbacks, releasing allocated funding and increasing funding for prevention, education, and data collection. Most critically, NCAVP calls upon these institutions to end discriminatory practices that further promote anti-LGBTQ hate violence. We must work at the institutional level for systems change, but also address the personal and societal prejudice that is at the root of homophobia and transphobia.
How can you promote safety and inclusion for members of the LGBTQ community? What is one action you will take this year, to reach out to an LGBTQ family member, challenge a friend’s anti-queer attitude, or advocate for systemic inclusion?
To read the full report and recommendations, visit NCAVP’s website. For Bay Area anti-violence resources, check out Communities United Against Violence which works to prevent and respond to violence in and against LGBTQ communities.