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Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Up 11 Percent in 2008. Because There Were More? Or More Reports?

We’re always skeptical of official numbers on hate crime incidents, since these figures rely on the crimes being reported, something that might not happen because a victim is shamed into silence or an arresting officer fails to mark the proper box. That said, the FBI’s latest report says anti-gay hate crimes — whether vandalism or attacks on a person — were up 11 percent last year, compared to religious-based hate crimes increasing 9 percent, and race-based crimes down about 1 percent. We can point to the just-signed Matthew Shepard Act and say “Thank god Obama signed that,” but what the law will probably do is help increase the number of hate crimes reports. That doesn’t mean the actual number of attacks have gone up, but because of increased attention on anti-gay hate crimes, and elevated resources, we expect to be here next year reporting another increase.