Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes up in CA, AG report says

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday June 27, 2023
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California Attorney General Rob Bonta rode in the San Francisco Pride parade June 25 and issued the statewide hate crimes report two days later. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
California Attorney General Rob Bonta rode in the San Francisco Pride parade June 25 and issued the statewide hate crimes report two days later. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Just days after appearing in San Francisco's LGBTQ Pride parade, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that hate crimes against gay men, lesbians, and trans people all rose last year.

The numbers came as part of his office's annual report on hate crimes, which was released Tuesday, June 27. Bonta blamed "racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and destructive language" for the uptick.

"In the past several years we've witnessed national rhetoric get more heated, more divisive, more extreme. Hate unfortunately has no borders. California is not immune," Bonta said, speaking at the Los Angeles Central Library for the livestreamed news conference. "As the vitriol spreads so does hate. We see that to be true year after year."

Specifically, there were 2,120 reported hate crime events in total in California — up 20.2% from the reported 1,763 events in 2021, Bonta said.

"I'm fairly confident these numbers are undercounted," Bonta said. "We know from lived experience and individuals that they don't always feel comfortable coming forward."

The group with the largest share of hate crimes committed against them were Black and African American Californians, accounting for 652 bias events in 2022, compared to 513 in 2021.

The next most likely group are gay men, who were victimized by at least 271 reported hate crimes. The report also listed 81 hate crimes as being motivated by "anti-homosexual bias."

The report also shows 49 anti-transgender hate crimes, 33 reported anti-lesbian hate crimes, 12 anti-gender-nonconforming hate crimes, and four anti-bisexual hate crimes. There were two reported anti-heterosexual hate crimes.

Excepting anti-bisexual hate crimes, these were all increases over 2021 numbers. Anti-gay male hate crimes rose by 28.4% alone, from 211 in 2021 to 271 in 2022, according to the report.

Sunitha Menon, a queer woman who is the managing director of operations for Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ rights group, and its affiliate Silver State Equality in Nevada, joined Bonta at the news conference. She said, "It goes without saying that this Pride season feels a lot different than others," referencing the homophobic and transphobic rhetoric that has ratcheted up in recent months, as the Bay Area Reporter has reported.

The United States Department of Homeland Security issued guidance last month warning that "individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community" could be targets of "lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances," particularly in the aftermath of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs last November that killed five people and injured 25 others last November. (The shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, pleaded guilty to a raft of charges, including five first-degree murder counts, June 26 and was given five consecutive life sentences plus more time by the judge.)

"It is heartbreaking that once again our community is experiencing a surge of hate crimes in the Golden State," Menon said. "Hate speech leads to violent actions and LGBTQ Californians are experiencing that. The domino effect is clear and we cannot allow this to continue putting lives at risk."

"For all LGBT people, we are grateful for the continued support of Attorney General Rob Bonta and for his commitment to ensuring LGBTQ+ people — especially our trans siblings — grow up in a California that welcomes them," Menon continued.

The numbers show that people are most likely to be victims of hate crimes at their own homes, residences or driveways, on the street, in a parking lot or garage, in school, or at a house of worship.

Rabbi Ken Chasen of the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles said, "Frankly, California's Jewish community did not have to wait until the report was released. We experienced the increase in hatred directed at us with our own eyes and their own ears."

Jewish people were the most targeted religious group; and the fourth most targeted group in total, following the Black, gay male, and Latino communities. There were 228 reported anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2022 compared to 33 anti-Muslim and 23 anti-Catholic hate crimes, No. 2 and No. 3 among religious groups, respectively.

Chasen said members of his congregation were targeted with "hate baggies" with literature accusing Jewish people of "masterminding the COVID agenda."

"It's been shown again and again and again throughout Jewish history that anti-Semitism doesn't exist in a hate vacuum," Chasen said. "When a society permits any minority population to be targeted with hate, any minority population will be targeted with hate."

Forty-one of the 2,120 hate crime events were in San Francisco, the report shows. One hundred and ninety-one were in Santa Clara County and 109 were in Alameda County.

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.

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