L.A. hate crimes against gay men, lesbians, LBGT groups increase

Los Angeles Hate Crimes

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations released its annual hate crime report Wednesday. Here’s some of the findings from the report. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

Los Angeles hate crimes targeting gay men, lesbians, and LGBT organizations increased 20 percent in 2018 compared to 2017 and comprised 24 percent of all reported hate crimes, county officials.

Also, 72 percent of these hate crimes were violent, officials said.

These findings are published in the annual hate crimes report that was released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

African Americans targeted

African Americans are less than 9 percent of the county population, but are victims of sexual orientation hate crimes 30 percent of the time, according to the report.

“We are truly alarmed at the continued over-representation of African Americans in racial, sexual orientation and anti-transgender hate crimes,” Commission President Jarrett Barrios said in a statement.

County officials didn’t have any specific solutions to reduce hate crimes.

Gay men, lesbians targeted

The hate crimes committed against gay men and lesbians included aggravated and simple assaults, intimidation, and vandalism, according to the report.

After two years of record highs, anti-transgender crimes declined 24 percent, from 37 to 25, and 92 percent of them were violent, the highest rate of any group, according to the report.

Overall, Los Angeles County hate crimes in 2018 were the largest number reported since 2009.

County hate crimes have increased 36 percent since 2009.

What’s a hate crime?

According to California state law, someone can be charged with a hate crime when their thoughts on the victim’s real or perceived race-ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation play a substantial factor in a crime.

Hate speech

Hate speech is a crime when someone threatens violence with spoken or written words against a specific person or group. The threat must be immediate, unconditional, and unequivocal. It must also cause the victim sustained fear.

Free speech

However, when someone uses a slur or epithet against a protected class and violence isn’t threatened, it is not a crime. Such language is protected by free speech. 

Graffiti, vandalism

Graffiti is only a hate crime when it is directed at a specific protected class. For example, racial graffiti on a freeway overpass that doesn’t address a particular person is vandalism.

Vandalism of a house of worship or of an ethnic, religious, or gay and lesbian organization could be investigated as a hate crime.

Hate crime areas

The largest number of hate crimes took place in the metropolitan area, which stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights, followed by the San Fernando Valley region.
But, if the area populations are compared to the hate crime numbers, the metropolitan region had the highest rate followed by western region, which includes West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Culver City, and several wealthy beach cities.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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