Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bashing/Marriage Coincidence

The dreadful timing of increased anti-gay violence suggests a strong tie to the same-sex marriage debate. The data in a new national report don't prove it scientifically, but it is easy to infer when the bashing soared during the two months of the hottest Massachusetts Constitutional Convention debates.

A third of the 105 incidents reported in the commonwealth occurred in February and March 2004, the months that the anti-same-sex-marriage and general anti-gay demonstrations, oral, print and online rhetoric were strongest and most frequent. "The fact that hate incidents increased during these two months is not coincidental,”" said Emily Pitt, Violence Recovery Program Coordinator of Fenway Community Health Center. "“These numbers bear out what the LGBT community has known for some time, that hate speech leads to hate violence."

You can read the press release on this here. You can get the whole national survey in PDF (an Acrobat-compatible reader required) here. The whole survey is ANTI-LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER VIOLENCE IN 2004: A Report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Overall, this area saw a 30% increase in incidents from 2003 to 2004. Disturbingly enough, serial incidents against the same victim increased 240%.

The Fenway Community Health Center collects the data locally and works with the police among others.

The Massachusetts section of the national report includes:
In the last edition of this report, it was noted that while a number of other programs and regions were charting increases, Massachusetts which was a hotspot of both pro and anti-LGBT attention during that state's same-sex marriage battle showed an overall decline in anti-LGBT incidents.

However, it was also pointed out in that edition that there was some evidence of an 'Eye of the Storm' effect in locations at the center of LGBT focus that may depress anti-LGBT violence at the height of attention, but allows such violence to increase once the spotlight is removed and to that end, though Massachusetts showed and overall decrease in anti-LGBT incidents for 2003, and even a 36% decrease in incidents in the last half of 2003, that decline had slowed to 9% in the year's final quarter. That apparent reversal of the significant declines in reported anti-LGBT violence in Massachusetts indicates that as attention moved from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decisions specifically, to the broader issue of same-sex marriage as a national issue, anti-LGBT violence in Massachusetts began to creep up. Additionally, the experience of anti-LGBT violence in Massachusetts clearly changed throughout 2004, resulting in the dramatic increase in incidents throughout the year.

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