FBI Statistics for 2017 Show Rise in LGBT Hate Crimes in Texas

(Photo: Sam Sanchez)

Statistics released by the FBI on November 14 show a rise in hate crimes against LGBT people residing in the state of Texas during 2017.

In 2016, 45 LGBT hate crimes were reported statewide — that number rose to 49 in 2017. The breakdown shows a 16 percent rise incidents motivated by sexual orientation and a 33 percent rise in incidents motivated by gender identity.

A total of 192 hate crime incidents were reported across the state in 2017. The FBI breaks down those crimes by bias motivations. The number of hate crimes in Texas by classification are: race/ethnicity/ancestry (117), religion (22), sexual orientation (43), disability (3), gender (1), and gender identity (6).

Austin reported the highest total of hate crimes overall but Dallas reported the highest number of hate crimes (12) motivated by sexual orientation. Houston reported the highest number of hate crimes (2) motivated by gender identity.

In San Antonio, one hate crime motivated by sexual orientation was reported in 2017. None were reported for gender identity.

Hate crime protections in Texas date back to 2001, when the Texas Legislature passed the James Byrd Jr. Act. The law punishes crimes committed based on the race, color, disability, national origin, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation of the victim.

Despite the Byrd Act’s good intentions, many statisticians, equal rights advocates and LGBT activists agree there is a great deal of under-reporting of hate crimes.

“We believe Texas is one of those states that has a significant issue of under-reporting,” Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University told the Houston Chronicle last year. “It’s highly unlikely the major cities in Texas are reporting the bulk of hate crimes that actually occur.”

One obstacle to accurate hate crime assessment is that not all police departments participate in hate crime reporting and most of those who do participate report “zero” hate crimes year after year.

Across the U.S., the FBI, reports there was a 17 percent increase in federal hate crimes against LGBT people during 2017, the third consecutive yearly increase — the largest since 2001.

The nationwide statistics show 60 percent of these incidents targeted gay men, 25 percent targeted a mix of LGBT people, 12 percent targeted lesbians, three percent targeted heterosexuals, two percent targeted bisexuals and one percent targeted transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Frank Pezzella, a criminology professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told WBBH-TV that “the increase in this year’s number of federally reported hate crimes is alarming — but still likely a gross undercount of the total number of bias incidents, because many — perhaps most — hate crimes go unreported.”

Hate Crimes Reported in 2017 by Texas Largest Cities

Austin
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 18
Racial hate crimes: 10
Religious hate crimes: 3
Sexual orientation hate crimes: 4
Gender identity hate crimes: 1

Arlington
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 7
Racial hate crimes: 4
Religious hate crimes: 2
Sexual orientation hate crimes: 1

Corpus Christi
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 0

Dallas
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 14
Racial hate crimes: 2
Sexual orientation hate crimes: 12

El Paso
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 4
Racial hate crimes: 4

Fort Worth
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 13
Racial hate crimes: 7
Religious hate crimes: 2
Sexual orientation hate crimes: 4

Houston
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 8
Racial hate crimes: 2
Religious hate crimes: 3
Sexual orientation hate crimes: 1
Gender identity hate crimes: 2

Laredo
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 0

Plano
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 3
Racial hate crimes: 2
Gender identity hate crimes: 1

San Antonio
Total hate crimes reported in 2017: 4
Racial hate crimes: 2
Religious hate crimes: 1
Sexual orientation hate crimes: 1

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports

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