By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com February 14 2001 12:00 AM ET
The FBI said Tuesday that there were 7,876 hate crimes reported in 1999, with about one in six of the incidents being motivated by antigay bias. More than half of the incidents were motivated by racial prejudice, with religious bias accounting for the next largest number. The data came from 12,122 law enforcement agencies in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Crimes against people accounted for nearly two thirds of all the incidents. The agency said that 17 people were murdered in hate crimes in 1999, with nine deaths attributed to racial bias, three attributed to antigay bias, and three to prejudice against ethnic or national origin. Activists said that the figures represent only a fraction of actual incidents. Local law enforcement officials are massively underreporting the number of hate crimes motivated by a persons sexual orientation or gender identity, said Elizabeth Toledo, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In some cases authorities are simply not trained adequately to gather and report the statistics. In other instances they lack the willpower or motivation. What these statistics tell us is that reporting of hate crimes must become mandatory in every state and every jurisdiction in the United States.