Bias against LGBTQ community is on the rise

Amid Pride Month celebrations, LAPD data shows increase in incidents
Hate Crime


Celebrations of the LGBTQ community are taking place across Los Angeles in June, and one does not have to look far to see city and neighborhood residents reaching out and coming together for Pride Month. 


Yet Los Angeles Police Department data shows that there is still much work to be done to end bias directed at LGBTQ people. There were 40 instances of bias reported by gay men, lesbians, bisexual or transgender individuals from Jan. 1-May 15, a nearly 18% increase from the 34 instances reported during the same time period last year.


Bias incidents reported by LGBTQ individuals, Jan. 1-May 15, 2020 vs, 2020

Bar graph with bias incidents


There were 29 instances of bias against gay men during that time, a 45% jump from the 20 during the same time period last year.


“The increase of reported hate crimes by gay men probably has a lot to do with the safety efforts made by anti-violence programs across Los Angeles,” said Skylar Myers, who leads the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anti-Violence Project. “In the past year, programming has ramped up in response to the publicity of identity-motivated crimes.”


Los Angeles has seen a disturbing increase in hate crimes and hate incidents this year. In April the LAPD recorded 62 hate crimes, the highest single-month total in more than a decade. In 2020, hate crimes in the city rose for the seventh consecutive year


Myers, who uses the they/them pronouns, said that each individual group faces its own challenges, but that people who identify under the “T” often deal with additional hurdles


“I think we can do better when it comes to protecting and servicing trans women of color,” they said. 


Of the four instances of bias reported against transgender women from Jan. 1-May 15, three were women of color. 


Journalist and political strategist Jasmyne Cannick said Black people of all gender identities, expressions and sexual orientations continue to be at the top of the list for victims of hate crimes.  


“We were also over-represented as victims of sexual orientation and anti-transgender crimes,” Cannick said.


The LAPD in 2019 expanded how it records hate crimes and incidents. It now tracks 35 categories including anti-gay male, anti-lesbian and anti-transgender. These are the same codes the FBI uses to track bias-motivated offenses. 


The LAPD defines a hate crime as “any criminal act or attempted criminal act directed against a person or persons based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender.”


These are not to be confused with “hate incidents,” which typically include instances of abuse involving racial, gender or sexual-orientation bias, but do not result in a formal crime report.


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Possible fear of reporting

In the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, 120 crimes were reported in which the victim was gay or lesbian, a 21% increase from the 99 in 2019. That reverses a trend: Crimes where the victim was gay or lesbian had declined steadily in Los Angeles since 2016. 


Crimes in Los Angeles where the victim was gay or lesbian, 2016-2020

Bar chart of crimes against gay or lesbian people


There were 41 crimes reported with a transgender victim in 2020, a 21% decrease from 2019. 


Crimes in Los Angeles where the victim was transgender, 2016-2020

Bar chart of crimes where the victim was transgender or lesbian

The LAPD does not stipulate if people were targeted for these crimes because of their sexuality or gender identity, but Myers said the drop in transgender victims could be due to a fear of law enforcement.


“Many from the communities we serve, that of the most marginalized–homeless, low-income, trans, queer, Black/Brown–have hesitation in seeking justice through the legal system,” they said. “They’ve seen someone they know who didn’t have the best experience or they didn’t have the best experience themselves in the past.”


The Los Angeles Times compiled a list for those who want to support the LGBTQ community during Pride Month that includes organizations accepting donations, books to read by LGBTQ authors, and shopping that supports LGBTQ organizations in the fight for equality.


How we did it: We examined crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 1, 2020-May 15, 2021, and tracked other incidents from 2016-2020. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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