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Reports of Anti-Gay Crimes Rose 26 Percent in 2013, Advocates Say

By Mathew Katz | May 30, 2014 7:14am | Updated on May 30, 2014 10:14am
  Attacks were up for the fourth consecutive year in 2013, according to the Anti-Violence Project. 
Anti-Gay Attacks Up 26 Percent in 2013, Report Says
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MIDTOWN — Reports of attacks against LGBT New Yorkers rose just over 26 percent in 2013, according to a new study by the Anti-Violence Project.

The organization's research found that 594 people reported attacks in New York City because of their sexual identity in 2013, up from 470 in 2012. The numbers are based on a combination of attacks reported in the media and victims who reported incidents to AVP.

The group said that the number of reported attacks has risen for four consecutive years and that the jump in 2013 was the largest increase the organization has ever recorded.

Reports of attacks against transgender and gender non-conforming people went up by 21 percent, the report said. 

According to the NYPD, there were 29 reported anti-gay attacks in New York City by May of last year, up from 14 during the same period in 2012. The NYPD's numbers are always lower than the Anti-Violence Project's figures because some victims choose not to go to the police, AVP said.

The organization cautioned that their numbers may be “a reflection of the enhanced accuracy in reporting, as well as the fact that we are reaching more New Yorkers with our message of safety for LGBTQ and HIV-affected people," rather than show an increase in violence, AVP Executive Director Sharon Stapel said.

Nationally, the number of reported anti-gay attacks was down slightly in 2013 compared to 2012, with a nearly 1 percent decrease, according to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Still, the city saw an alarming spate of anti-gay hate crimes last year, including a broad daylight attack in May 2013 on a gay couple holding hands near Madison Square Garden, and the murders of Mark Carson, a gay man walking in Greenwich Village in May; Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who was killed in Harlem in August; and Ever Orozco, who was stabbed to death in September after his accused killer thought he was gay.

All three of these murder victims — and the vast majority of those attacked in New York in 2013 — were people of color, according to the report.

“In each of these cases, AVP responded by working very closely with community members and other community-based organizations to ensure that those most disproportionately impacted by this violence, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people and people of color, were leading the LGBTQ anti-violence work in New York City," Chanel Lopez, a hate violence counselor with AVP, said in a statement.

The NYPD and District Attorneys' offices often decline to charge a suspect with a hate crime if they feel they don't have sufficient evidence to prove it was bias-motivated, driving down the number of prosecutions, advocates said.

"One of the reasons why there has been an increase in the reporting of hate crime incidents is because there has been an increase in hate crime awareness," Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, said in a statement.

"Our Office’s Hate Crimes Unit, which DA [Cyrus] Vance formed in 2010, aggressively investigates and prosecutes hate crimes. Calls to our Hate Crimes hotline also generate additional cases that do not come in through traditional street arrests."

While AVP said that 35 percent more victims of anti-LGBT violence went to the police in 2013 compared to the previous year, the group found that more than half of the victims were arrested. They also found that more than 20 percent of victims reported that police officers responded to them with anti-gay slurs.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to an inquiry.