Violence against the LGBTQ+ community is nothing new. This year, however, L.A. County has decided to do something about it. Thanks to a new motion passed on September 3, Los Angeles will become the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to start recording suspicious, violent, or unusual deaths of LGBTQ+ community members.
While in the past, medical examiners weren’t encouraged to factor in sexual orientation and gender identity as part of their intake, L.A.’s step to record and study trends in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes marks a serious dedication to getting to the root of so many violent hate crimes and suicides.
According to the motion:
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) statistics show that in 2017, 7,175 hate crimes were reported, 1,130 of which were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in four transgender people have been assaulted simply because they are transgender.”
Keeping tabs on LGBTQ+ murders, suicides, and assaults won’t just help raise awareness of the issue. In addition to helping lawmakers and policy enforcers get the data they need when making decisions about LGBTQ+ safety, the new data will help spread the message that violence against the queer community will not be tolerated or swept under the rug any longer.
“Hate crimes legislation…categorizes hate offenses as deserving increased punishment and condemnation as an emphatic message to society and potential offenders that such actions are no longer tolerated,” writes Christopher J. Lyons, in a 2006 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly. Simply put: if the perpetrators of these crimes know they’re being watched, they’ll be less likely to endanger their own freedoms by engaging in hateful, violent acts against the queer community.
The motion has had a lot of support in California, and in fact all over the country. In the United States, 68% of people favor including sexual orientation and gender identity in federal hate crimes law, according to a recent report by the Human Rights Campaign. If you look at the statistics, you’ll soon see why. This year alone, 18 trans women, mostly trans women of color, have been murdered, the most recent being Bee Love Slater, a young woman in Florida who was found burned to death in her car last week. Though investigators say it’s Queer youth are over three times as likely to attempt suicide or entertain suicidal thoughts as their straight counterparts. Suicide and hate crimes aren’t the only things endangering the community, either. According to the HRC, 30% of anti-LGB hate crimes are committed in the home, while transgender homicides are more likely to occur in public. Between homicide, suicide, and domestic abuse, the queer community has a lot to shield itself from, even in liberal areas like New York and Los Angeles. This motion represents a giant step forward on the part of concerned L.A. citizens, community members, and allies who want the violence to finally stop.