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Violent crimes against LGBT individuals up 13%, report says

July 12, 2011 | 11:07 am

Photo: Brandon McInerney was 14 when he shot Lawrence King (pictured) to death in Oxnard in 2008. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times An 18-year-old gay man from Texas allegedly slain by a high-school classmate who believed his friend was making advances toward him; a 31-year-old transgender woman from Pennsylvania found dead with a pillowcase around her head; and a 24-year-old lesbian from Florida purportedly killed by her girlfriend’s father, who disapproved of the relationship.

The homicides are a sampling of 2010 hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people compiled by a national coalition of anti-hate organizations.

The report, released Tuesday, showed a 13% increase over 2009 in violent crimes committed against people because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or status as HIV positive, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects.

Last year's homicide count reached 27 -- up from 22 in 2009 and the second-highest number since the coalition began tracking such crimes in 1996. Of those killed, the data show, 70% were minorities and 44% were transgender women. The attacks also show a higher level of brutality, the report concludes.

The trends, said Jake Finney, project manager with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, one of 43 groups that participate in the coalition, “will not change without raising awareness of this brutality and taking affirmative steps to address transphobia.”

The 2010 murder count is second to the 29 logged in 1999 and 2008. Among the 2008 fatalities was gay Oxnard high school student Larry King. The classmate charged in that killing, Brandon McInerney, is currently on trial in Superior Court in his murder.

Not all the crimes were classified by law enforcement as hate-motivated, in part because some states have no such statute. In other cases, the coalition’s member organizations pushed police to recognize the hate bias.

Among those, Finney said, was the case of a transgender man who was attending a Los Angeles area university and was attacked in a campus bathroom.

“The attacker used a sharp instrument to carve the word ‘It’ in the victim’s chest, and campus police were not clear that the word 'It' was a slur and indicated anti-transgender bias,” Finney said. “It took a great deal of advocacy to have them classify that incident as a hate crime."


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-- Lee Romney

Photo: A yearbook photo of Larry King, who was shot to death in Oxnard in 2008.