Even before the mass murder at a gay nightclub in Orlando, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were already the most likely targets of hate crimes in America, according to a New York Times analysis of FBI data. LGBT people are twice as likely to be targeted as African-Americans, and the rate of hate crimes against them has surpassed that of crimes against Jews. Nearly a fifth of the 5,462 so-called single-bias hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2014 were because of the target’s sexual orientation.
Ironically, violence against LGBT people might be related to a more accepting attitude toward gays and lesbians in recent decades. As the majority of society becomes more tolerant of LGBT people, some of those who are opposed to them become more radical, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those who find the shifting culture extremely disturbing may be motivated “to strike out in some way, and for some people, that way could be in violent attacks,” said Gregory M. Herek, a California professor who is an expert on anti-gay violence.