Anti-gay hate crimes widespread

July 2, 2007

Nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation, according to a new study by University of California, Davis, psychology professor Gregory Herek.

“This is the most reliable estimate to date of the prevalence of anti-gay victimization in the United States,” Herek said. “The data demonstrate that crimes against sexual minority adults, especially gay men, are disturbingly widespread.”

Herek’s findings were based on a survey he conducted in the fall of 2005 with a nationally representative sample of 662 self-identified gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. The study will be published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Overall, 21 percent of the people in the survey reported being the victim of violence or a property crime -- including physical assault, sexual assault, theft and vandalism -- because of their sexual orientation. In addition, 49 percent said they had been verbally abused because of their sexual orientation, 23 percent reported being threatened with violence, 12.5 percent reported having objects thrown at them, and 11 percent reported housing or job discrimination.

“These data highlight the continuing need for criminal justice programs to prevent and deter anti-gay crimes, as well as the need for victim services that will help to alleviate the physical, economic, social and psychological consequences of such crimes,” Herek said.

The study found significantly different rates of victimization among gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. More than a third of the gay men said they had experienced violence or property crime because of their sexual orientation, or about three times the proportion of lesbians and bisexuals. Gay men also reported the highest rates of harassment and verbal abuse. And gay men and lesbians reported two to four times more housing and job discrimination than bisexuals. The disparities persisted after Herek controlled statistically for age, race, ethnicity and education.

“Men are generally more likely than women to be the targets of most kinds of violent crime, and this pattern seems to hold in anti-gay hate crimes as well,” Herek said. “The gay men and lesbians in the study were much more likely than the bisexual men and women to be open about their sexual orientation. Their greater visibility probably also makes them easier targets for discrimination than bisexuals.”

Survey respondents were randomly selected from a panel of more than 40,000 U.S. households maintained by Knowledge Networks, a survey research firm. The firm recruits panel members via standard telephone sampling methods; in return for regularly completing online surveys, the panel members receive free Internet equipment and access.

Previous studies of anti-gay hate crimes have relied on samples that were smaller or not representative of the U.S. population, Herek reported.

In the new study, survey respondents had an average age of 39. Most had attended some college. Two thirds were white, 16 percent black and 12.5 percent Hispanic.

Source: University of California - Davis

Explore further: New findings reveal health, aging experiences of LGBT older adults across nation

Related Stories

New data reveal aging experiences of LGBT Americans

February 9, 2017

A new supplemental issue of the journal The Gerontologist presents the findings of the largest national survey to date focused on the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults.

New study looks at LGBT allies in college sports

January 30, 2017

The sports world has not always been considered the most inviting place for those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Yet, college athletes can make powerful allies for the LGBT community, given their visibility ...

Recommended for you

Study on prehistoric violence published

February 20, 2017

A longtime Cal Poly Pomona anthropology professor who studies violence among prehistoric people in California has been published in a prestigious journal.

'Tully monster' mystery is far from solved, group argues

February 20, 2017

Last year, headlines in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American and other outlets declared that a decades-old paleontological mystery had been solved. The "Tully monster," an ancient animal that had long defied ...

Mathematical models predict how we wait in line, traffic

February 17, 2017

As New Jersey drivers approach the George Washington Bridge to enter New York City, a digital sign flashes overhead with estimates of the delays on the upper and lower levels of the bridge. Most drivers choose the level with ...

Remembering the need to forget

February 17, 2017

We are built to forget – it is a psychological necessity. But in a social media world that captures – and, more importantly, remembers – everything we say and do, forgetting is becoming a thing of the past. If we lose ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.