LGBTQ hate crimes in California increase, AG's report says

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Friday June 28, 2024
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California Attorney General Rob Bonta spoke at the GLBT Historical Society Museum in San Francisco in 2021. Photo: Christopher Robledo
California Attorney General Rob Bonta spoke at the GLBT Historical Society Museum in San Francisco in 2021. Photo: Christopher Robledo

Despite an overall decrease in reported hate crimes in California last year, those committed against the LGBTQ community continued to rise, according to Attorney General Rob Bonta, who released the state's 2023 report Friday.

According to the "2023 Hate Crime in California" report, reported hate crimes also increased against Jewish and Muslim communities.

Overall, reported hate crime events in California decreased by 7.1% from 2,120 in 2022 to 1,970 in 2023, according to the report.

"While it is heartening to see an overall decrease in hate crimes in 2023, some of our communities, including our LGBTQ+, Jewish and Muslim communities, continue to be targeted and endangered by hate at alarming rates. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us — there is no place for hate in California," Bonta stated in a news release accompanying the report.

According to the report, between 2022 and 2023, hate crime events motivated by sexual orientation bias increased by 4.1% from 391 in 2022 to 405 in 2023. Anti-transgender bias events increased by 10.2% from 59 in 2022 to 65 in 2023, and anti-LGBTQ+ bias events increased by 86.4% from 2022.

In the sexual orientation category, there were 231 anti-gay (male) 17 anti-lesbian, 151 anti-LGBTQ+, and six anti-bisexual events.

Under gender, there were two anti-male, four anti-female, 65 anti-transgender, and 11 anti-gender-nonconforming events, the report stated.

Tony Hoang, a gay man who's executive director of Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ+ rights organization, said the numbers aren't a surprise.

"Hate does not happen in a vacuum," Hoang stated in a news release. "Over the past several years, we have seen a sharp increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric being expressed by far-right extremists and hate groups. This year alone, more than 600 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation were introduced across the country, including right here in California.

"The data in this report makes it clear: anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies directly result in physical intimidation, harassment, and acts of violence," he added. "No person should have to live with fear of being themselves, and we must be very clear that hate has no place in California."

Reported hate crime events involving a racial bias decreased 21.6% from 1,298 in 2022 to 1,017 in 2023, the report stated. Anti-Black bias events remained the most prevalent, despite a 20.6% decrease from 652 in 2022 to 518 in 2023, the report stated.

Anti-Hispanic or Latino bias events were listed at 199 in the report.

Anti-Asian bias events decreased 10.71% from 140 in 2022 to 125 in 2023, the report indicated.

But increases were seen in Jewish and Muslim communities. According to the report, anti-Jewish bias events rose from 189 in 2022 to 289 in 2023, an increase of 52.9%. Anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias events rose from 25 in 2022 to 40 in 2023.

From 2022 to 2023, the number of hate crimes referred for prosecution increased from 647 in 2022 to 679 in 2023. Of the 679 hate crimes that were referred for prosecution, 463 cases were filed by district attorneys and elected city attorneys for prosecution. Of the 463 cases that were filed for prosecution, 322 were filed as hate crimes and 141 were filed as non-bias motivated crimes.

The report presents statistics on hate crimes reported by California law enforcement agencies that occurred during 2023. These statistics include the reported number of hate crime events, hate crime offenses, victims of hate crimes, and suspects of hate crimes.

Under California law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of a victim's actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with someone with one or more of these characteristics.

If people believe they have been the victim of a hate crime, they should notify local law enforcement, Bonta's release stated. People should call 911 if they are in immediate danger and seek medical attention if needed.

It's helpful to authorities if people can write down the exact words someone says to them and note other relevant facts, the release stated.

Hate crimes are distinct from hate incidents, which are actions or behaviors motivated by hate that may be protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression, the attorney general noted. Examples of hate incidents include name-calling, insults, and distributing hate material in public places. If a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime, the attorney general stated.

The Bay Area Reporter reached out to Community United Against Violence, a Mission neighborhood-based nonprofit that addresses homophobic and transphobic violence, but did not immediately hear back.

Bonta said Californians should work together to prevent hate crimes.

"Everyone has a part to play as we continue to fight prejudice and create safer communities in California," he stated. "I urge everyone to review the data and resources available and recommit to standing united against hate. The California Department of Justice has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hate, and will continue working with law enforcement, elected leaders, and community organizations across the state to keep our communities safe through education, prevention, and enforcement."

To read the report, click here.

The State of California offers help for victims or witnesses to a hate crime or hate incident. This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

Updated, 6/28/24: This article has been updated with comments from Equality California.

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