Toronto

With Pride approaching, concern in LGBT community about violent hate crimes

With Toronto’s Pride festival approaching, there’s concern in the city’s LGBT community about a new report that says hate crimes targeting a person’s sexual orientation are more likely to be violent.

Statistics Canada report shows hate crimes targeting sexual orientation more likely to be violent

Becky Mcfarlane isn't surprised by a recent StatsCan report that shows hate crimes targeting sexual orientation are more likely to be violent. She says it's linked to the vulnerability of many in the LGBT community (The 519)

With Toronto's Pride festival approaching, there's concern in the city's LGBT community about a new report that says hate crimes targeting a person's sexual orientation are more likely to be violent.

The report from Statistics Canada, tracked the number of hate crimes reported to police across Canada up until 2015.

It found that hate crimes "motivated by hatred of sexual orientation were more likely to be violent than hate crimes targeting other groups."

There were 114 police-reported hate crimes in this category in 2015, 14 fewer than the previous year, according to the report.

Between 2010 and 2015, the report says, 65 per cent of the police-reported hate crimes that targeted sexual orientation involved violent offences, the most common being assault.

'Traumatizing' violence

The numbers back up the "traumatizing" reports of violence that Becky Mcfarlane has been hearing for years.

Mcfarlane, a senior director at The 519, a downtown centre that supports Toronto's LGBT community, says the numbers don't surprise her.

"This isn't a new phenomenon," Mcfarlane said in an interview with CBC Toronto.

"For a long time, members of our trans community have been telling us that they experience greater levels of violence and hate."

Mcfarlane says LGBT people are often more vulnerable than others, and therefore easier to target for violent hate crimes.

"I think your level of vulnerability is aligned to the chances that you're going to be victimized by a hate crime," Mcfarlane said.

The solution, Mcfarlane says, must include more education and support for victims of hate crimes, including access to health care and counselling.

"The more we talk about it, the more safety exists," she said.

Toronto data

Toronto Police have already released hate-crime data for 2016.

The data showed police-reported hate crimes that target sexual orientation dropped from 27 in 2014 to 18 in 2016.

However, Toronto Police data from both 2015 and 2016 echoes the Statistic Canada report in that violent hate crimes were more likely to target sexual orientation.

"The LGBTQ community was the predominant victim group for assaults in 2016," the Toronto Police 2016 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report said.

Most accused are young, male

The accused in these crimes were most often strangers (58 per cent).

Twenty-five per cent of victims knew the accused as a "casual acquaintance" and seven per cent reported the accused as a neighbour.

According to Statistics Canada, 82 per cent of victims of police-reported hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation between 2010 and 2015 were male and 45 per cent were under the age of 25.

More than half (54 per cent) of the people accused of the crimes were males under the age of 25.

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