Homophobia Is a Health Issue
The number of hate crimes against queer Americans is rising.

While almost every other category of crime is decreasing around the nation, hate crimes are on the rise. The San Diego registry logged 121 hate crimes in 1994 and 178 in 1995, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available. That amounts to a 47 percent increase.

Attacks against the transgendered more than doubled last year, increasing from 15 to 39 in San Francisco alone.

In 1995, the most common weapons used by gaybashers were hurled objects such as bricks and bottles. Last year, bats and clubs were used most often.(United Press International)

Nine cites reported 4,195 anti-gay and lesbian crimes in 1994.

The count from Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Minnesota/St. Paul, New York, Portland and San Francisco included:

  • 22 murders
  • 841 cases of physical assault/objects thrown
  • 81 incidents of sexual assault
  • 1,863 reports of harassment
  • 634 instances of threats of menacing
  • 238 instances of police verbal/physical abuse

    Police often don't count hate crimes against gays as crimes. For example, out of three 1996 murders of gays in San Francisco, only one was classified as a murder. Additionally, we can be sure that a large number of hate crimes are not reported. Victims of anti- gay violence often say they are reluctant to go to police because they fear they won't be taken seriously.

    The attacks are particularly violent.

    Nationally, 43 percent of the incidents involved physical assaults. The level of injury to victims was extremely high:

  • 62 percent of these victims were injured
  • 35 percent required outpatient medical treatment or hospitalization
  • 3 percent resulted in death.

    What is the effect of homophobia?

  • In a study of 686 gay men, 337 heterosexual men, 293 lesbian women, and 140 heterosexual women - 35% of gay men and 38% of lesbian women considered suicide. 8% gay men and 23% lesbian women had attempted - compared to only 3% heterosexual men and 14% heterosexual women. The majority of the suicide attempts were before the age of 20, nearly 1/3 of all attempts were before age 17.
  • In a study of homeless youth entering a shelter, 65% of the gay youth had attempted suicide as compared to 19% of the heterosexual youth.
  • In a study of 137 gay and bisexual males, 41 had attempted suicide (31%). 18 made multiple attempts. The mean age of those attempting was 15.5 years old.
  • In a study on gay male and lesbian youth suicide, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found lesbian and gay youth are two to six times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth and account for up to 30 percent of all completed teen suicides.

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