Op-Ed

What does increased hate crime mean for the LGBT community?

Unless you’ve been living under a blissful rock for the past year, you might have noticed that hate crimes in the US have soared. So much so that 1,056 hate crimes were committed in each of our nine largest cities last year. That’s an 18% increase from 2016 and something we should all be worried about.

Of course, it’s no secret that anti-Muslim and anti-Jew hate crimes are most prevalent among those figures. These are closely followed by hatred towards residents who were born outside America’s borders. Thanks to Trump’s hateful rhetoric towards such individuals, members of the public seem to consider themselves justified in tackling these ‘issues’. Though, it’s important to note that this increased hatred hasn’t only come about since Trump. In fact, American hate crimes like these have been on a steep increase for three years running. It seems that, even without Trump’s help, we’re a nation set on unjustified hatred and aggression.

But, with so much media attention focusing on racial hatred, crimes against other minorities are falling under the radar. In fact, from watching the news, it would be easy to assume that all is well with the world and the LGBT community at the moment. The majority of stories you do hear about this issue are those of acceptance and possibility. It would be natural, then, to assume that hatred has shifted away from issues of sexuality.

But, the truth couldn’t be more different. In fact, what the media don’t tell you is that these increased hate crimes cover all manner of issues, including that of LGBT hatred. This seems to be especially the case for transgender individuals, where hate crimes have risen more than 43%. That’s a shocking statistic and proves that this increase in hatred is across the board. And, America isn’t alone in figures like these. In Britain, LGBT-based hate crime has risen by a massive 82% in the past four years. What’s more, these figures may be even higher. In many cases, gender and sexuality don’t come into police reports. So, many hate-based incidents could easily be falling under our radars.

For those who believed things were shifting in the right direction, these numbers come as a real blow. Obviously, it would be naive to assume that hate crimes like these were a thing of the past. But, positive media coverage certainly suggests things were improving. In reality, the statistics paint a much bleaker picture, where tolerance is actually decreasing in a significant way.

It leaves us back in a position where we have to fight simply to be who we are and rally our defences. And, a fantastic way to do that is to ensure every vulnerable minority group knows how to take action against hatred like this. If you’re uncertain, the following pointers should start you off in the right direction.

Get the help you deserve

If you, or someone you know, falls foul to hate crime, it’s crucial you know that there’s help out there. Police sentencing against crimes like these can be extreme, but hard to come by. Often, without clear evidence, police shirk responsibility. But, know that isn’t the end of the road. Companies like The Sawaya Law Firm fight for victims of assault and battery. They could at least bring your case into the public and legal domain. So, don’t hesitate to head to their website and seek the representation you deserve. To increase your chances of legal retribution, make sure to take note of everything, from times and dates to your dealings with the police. Make sure, too, to document injuries, and make a note of any hateful slurs your attackers might have used. This is a frightening and sometimes painful process, but it’s crucial cases like these come more to the fore. By taking action, you may be able to save someone else meeting the same fate.

Report everything

When it comes to hate crime, it’s all too easy to lose faith in the police force. It can be frustrating when claims aren’t taken seriously or even dealt with at all. But, that’s not to say that you should stop reporting every incident. Often, it may seem as though the police don’t care. But, every report is noted and filed. And, these could be a massive help if the situation develops into anything more serious. What’s more, continually turning to law enforcement ensures they have no choice but to sit up and listen. And, if you persevere enough, you may start to see action taken against the perpetrators.

Spread the word

And, of course, you should spread the word about hatred like this. The media may not cover cases like these, but you can. You can take to the pages of social media and make sure that the world doesn’t turn a blind eye. It may be that you research cases which aren’t well reported, or post publicly about the hatred you and your friends have to deal with. Either way, posts like these stand to make a difference, especially if you gain a decent following. Social media has given us all a voice, and you could use yours to make things better for future generations.

In extreme cases, you may even want to use the audience you gain on social media to arrange petitions and protests. Often, with issues like these, you can only get your voices heard by taking to the streets. At the very least, acts like these can show other victims that they aren’t alone. That in itself should be worth your time. But, the chances are that the people up top will soon start listening if your community is loud enough.

A final word

There is no bright side to hate-crime. As such, it’s easy to fall into despair when you realize how prevalent this issue still is. But, by keeping our heads above the water, and making sure the world hears what’s happening, we can at least overcome the demons who try to hold us down.

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