Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents
Types of Anti-LGBTQQ Victimization
It is important to remember that LGBTQQ-motivated harassment and violence is based on the perception of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Recent national statistics indicate an increase in violence directed toward straight people who for various reasons are misperceived as LGBTQQ and consequently targeted for attack.
Menacing or Threatening Behavior
Menacing behavior can manifest itself in calls, letters and other forms of indirect threatening behavior. Alternatively, following on foot, in vehicles, or attempts to intercept the victim at places of work or residence represent direct menacing behavior.
Physical assault can take place in a one-on-one, group-on-one or group-on-group context. Assault can be randomly provoked by “gay panic”, which means an unwarranted negative overreaction to same-sex communication, expressed interest or affection, or general fear of homosexuality.
Blackmail/Threats of Outing
Perpetrators of blackmail may be known to the victim or unknown, or in the form of prison pen-pale scams with outside accomplices.
Same Gender Rape or Sexual Assault and Homophobic Rape or Sexual Assault
Rape can take the form of one-on-one assault or group-on-one gang attacks.
Entrapment (non-law enforcement)
In cases of entrapment, the victim is enticed to a public or private location where the victim is ridiculed, assaulted, or otherwise put in danger.
Vandalism, Property Damage
Vandalism can take the form of domestic attacks, in which the personal residence of a LGBT person comes under attack. Vandalism can also take place at a business, with the intent to actually destroy property, to "expose" the LGBT nature of the business, or to intimidate the customers.
- Victims of bias crimes have been attacked for being different, for being misunderstood, and for being hated. Because the basis for the attack is an integral part of their personal identity, victims may experience a deep personal crisis.
- Stress and vulnerability may be heightened and/or prolonged.
- Victims may reject the aspect of their identity that was the target of the attack.
- Assumptions about life may be shattered.
- Shattered assumptions regarding life/world view may be especially painful because the victim’s world view may be different from that of the dominant culture.
- Victims of bias crimes who are minorities may feel the crime was diminished because of stereotyping, prejudice, or institutional indifference.
- If membership in a target group is readily visible, victims of bias crimes may feel particularly vulnerable to repeat attacks. They may become afraid to associate with other members of a group that has been targeted or fail to seek needed services, believing that these actions increase their vulnerability.
- The victimization of individuals who are targets of hate based on some part of their identity is projected outward to all other community members.
- Members of commonly targeted groups are reminded of their vulnerability.
- Attacks on places of worship and cultural symbols may harm victims more than acts of vandalism; these attacks harm the entire community.
Responding to Hate & Bias
Reacting to hate incidents can be very difficult and requires large amounts of courage and emotional control. It is very important for you to remember to maintain a level head and open mind. For example, if a homophobic joke is overheard, there is a possibility that the person or persons telling the joke may not be intentionally trying to harm the individual or group being targeted. Many times, you will face people who react based on their ignorance because they have not had the opportunity to interact with people or groups dissimilar from themselves. Remember that incidents in which there is a clear intent of harm are often originated by the lack of knowledge and understanding of the differences among individuals and the respect that we all deserve. Also, consider how an event of this nature can create an environment for positive dialogue within your community.
“Conflict is not necessarily destructive, some conflict is creative. When conflict escalates to violence, then it becomes non-productive. Conflict is creative when it is the predecessor of change and in many cases, change is not negative.”
— Paul Kimmel, Cultural Diversity at Work
Ways to Respond
- Strive to create a welcoming and safe environment at your work and in your neighborhood
- Challenge your peers to do the same
- Have discussions with people in your life about prejudice and intolerance
- Explore options and ideas about what to do before something happens
- Learn how sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism and other forms of oppression are connected
- Take every incident seriously
- When possible, hold conversations about how incidents affect the community
- Show a film in a public venue which addresses prejudice
- Apathy is interpreted as acceptance by offenders, the public and the victim of an incident
- Talk to peers, friends, co-workers and others in your community about what has happened
- Gather ideas and get everyone involved
Support the Victims
- Let them know you care
- If they want, surround them with people they feel comfortable with - you don't need to talk about the issue, but this will let them know they are not alone
- If you are the victim, report the incident and get support
Create an alternative
- Do not attend a hateful event. Consider whether how and if to protest
- Find outlets for frustration, anger, and the desire to do something so that it does not become a negative function
- Hold a unity rally
- Promote a hate-free zone
- Promote a creative event, such as a mural creation, which responds to the incident
- Acknowledge and celebrate differences
- Take friends to cultural events
- Directly talk about biases which have been learned
- Discuss the value of differences
- Look into the issues which divide us
- Get to the heart of the incident, if you feel comfortable. What causes the offenders to feel fear or anger towards this group. Deal with the problem, not the symptom — educate!
The Vermont Human Rights Commission
The Vermont Human Rights Commission has jurisdiction over allegations of unlawful discrimination in housing, places of public accommodation, and state employment. If you believe you may have experienced discrimination, please call the Human Rights Commission at 800-416-2010, ext. 25, or go to our website (hrc.vermont.gov) to download a complaint form to fill out and return to our office.
Places of public accommodation include schools, restaurants, stores, professional offices, government agencies and other places offering goods or services to the general public. Generally, the HRC can only investigate situations in which the most recent incident of possible discrimination occurred within one calendar year of your initial contact with the HRC.
If you work for a private employer and believe you may have experienced discrimination, call the Vermont Attorney General's Office Civil Rights Unit at 888-745-9195 or go to their website at www.atg.state.vt.us and click on "Discrimination" in the lefthand column.
SEX, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY: A Guide to Vermont’s Anti- Discrimination Law for Housing Providers, Home Buyers and Tenants
SEX, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY: A Guide to Vermont’s Anti- Discrimination Law for Stores, Restaurants, Schools, Professional Offices and other Public Accommodations