Last year marked the deadliest for LGBTQ people ever recorded, according to a grim report released today by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).
NCAVP reports 52 hate-related homicides against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in 2017. That number marks a sobering 86 percent rise over 2016. (The Pulse Nightclub shooting is not included in the tally.) It’s the highest homicide rate ever tallied by NCAVP in its 20-year history.
“This report is a wake-up call for all of us,” says Beverly Tillery, executive director of the Anti-Violence Project, in the report’s announcement. “Our communities live in an increasingly hostile and dangerous climate, after a year of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies coming from the White House, Federal government agencies, state and local sources and in our communities across the country.”
Transgender women made up over half of the total murders, with 27 reported deaths. Cisgender men followed closely behind with 20 reported homicides, a staggering increase from just four in 2016. Of male victims, 45 percent of the reported deaths were related to hook-up violence.
Nearly two-thirds of the victims were people of color, sixty percent of them black. More than half the murders were committed in just five states, with Texas topping the list at seven. New York reported six murders, Georgia had five, and Louisiana and Florida each had four.
Young people represented the majority of homicides last year; 67 percent of the victims were 35-years-old and younger.
Guns were used in 59 percent of the of homicides where NCAVP had information about the cause of death. Three of the victims were shot and killed by police.
The numbers, while unprecedented, are hardly surprising to advocates. Reports of anti-LGBTQ violence in the media have been on the rise over the last year. December alone saw the murder of four black lesbians within the span of a single week.
Advocates say that hate violence has been spurred by Washington’s embrace of hate speech against LGBTQ people. In October, President Donald Trump became to the first sitting U.S. President to speak at a hate group’s summit.
Last week, his administration announced new rules allowing healthcare workers to deny service to transgender patients, people seeking abortions and others on the basis of religious or moral objections.
“We are releasing this report during a time when our communities are witnessing the few civil rights protections and policies being rolled back and discrimination being instituted into law,”NCAVP notes in the report, “when media organizations and organizations working with survivors are receiving an unprecedented number of stories of hate fueled attacks.”