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Hate Crimes

Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation." Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties, or political affiliation.

What to do following an incident

If you have been victimized in a hate crime or hate incident, here are some suggestions for things you should immediately do?

  • In an emergency, dial 911

  • Get medical attention for any injuries.

  • Get the responding officer's name and badge number.

  • Write down all details of the crime as quickly as possible after the reporting.

  • If you saw the perpetrator(s), try to remember gender, age, height, race, weight, build, clothes and other distinguishing characteristics. If anything was said, such as anti-gay epithets or threats, make a mental note about them.

  • Carefully preserve any evidence, such as notes, clothing, graffiti, tape recordings, fingerprints, etc. Take photographs of any injuries and of the location where the incident occurred.

  • If you want the crime to be reported as a hate/bias crime, tell the officer to note that on the report.

  • Make sure the officer files an incident report form and assigns a case number.

  • If the police do not assist you properly, file a report here: Michael: add link to report

  • If a police report is not taken at the time of your report, go to the police station and ask for one. Always get your own copy.

Even if you don't feel comfortable reporting to the police, report what happened to the Savannah Gay and Lesbian Community Police Collaborative! No problem is too small, no incident is insignificant.

We care and we can help.

For more information on the recently enacted Federal Hate Crime Law also known as the Matthew Shepard Act visit: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/civilrights/overview.htm

Matthew Shepard Act

On October 28, 2009 President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (attached to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010), which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and which dropped the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity.
The bill also:

  • removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school;

  • gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;
    provides $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for

  • investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;

  • requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes against transgender people (statistics for the other groups are already tracked).

The Act is the first federal law to extend legal protections to transgender persons.

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination Laws (sexual orientation) Anti-discrimination Laws concerning gender identity/expression
United States Legal Nationwide since 2003 Varies by state, but not recognized by Federal Govt Varies by state, but not recognized by Federal Govt. Single gay persons may adopt, laws on couples vary by state “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (under review for elimination No Federal protections. Banned in 20 states, Included in the federal hate crimes law since 2009 No Federal protection. Banned in 13 states. Included in the federal hate crimes law since 2009