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Religious Tolerance logo

U.S. hate crimes

Details of attacks motivated by hatred
of religion or sexual orientation.
Accuracy of hate crime statistics.

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What is the faith of the victims of religious hate crimes? 1

In 2005, the breakdown of religiously motivated hate crimes by religion were:

Religion Incidents Total adult population in
the U.S. of each religion
Incidents per million
Judaism 848 2.83 million 299.5
Islam 128 1.10 116.4
Christian 115 159.0 0.7
Other religions 93 3.8 24.5
Anti-multiple religions 39 - -
Atheism, Agnosticism, etc 4 27.5 0.15


bulletThe number of Muslims in the U.S. is a controversial topic. The estimate used is from ARIS data. It is a telephone survey and probably underestimates the number of Muslims. Some Muslim groups claim 6 or 7 million total membership including children.
bulletThere were almost equal numbers of Catholic and Protestant victims (58 vs. 57).
bulletIt appears that Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, Secularists, Ethical Culturalists, and those not identifying with any religion may be the safest from victimization. This may be mainly because they are not easily recognized; they don't tend to wear a Star of David, cross, crucifix or hijab.

What is the sexual orientation of the U.S. victims of hate crimes? 1

Sexual orientation Incidents Adult population (in millions). Incidents per million
Gays 621    
Lesbians 155    
Homosexual 195    
Total homosexual 971 10.9 million 89.1
Bisexual 25 6.5 3.95
Heterosexual 21 200.4 0.10


bulletData based on the FBI hate crime report for 2005, and assumes a adult population of 217.8 million.
bulletIt is based on the assumption that 92% of U.S. adults are heterosexual, 5% are homosexual and 3% are bisexual. Some religious and social conservatives believe that the percentage of homosexuals is much lower; many do not fully recognize bisexuals. Some gay-positive groups believe that the percentage is much higher.
bulletWe assume that all victims were adults -- 18 years or older.
bulletBased on FBI data, a homosexual is about 850 times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime motivated by his/her sexual orientation than is a heterosexual.

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Accuracy of hate crime statistics:

One study of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults showed that 41% reported being a victim of a hate crime at sometime during their life after the age of 16. 2 Assuming that 8% of all adults are either homosexual or bisexual, this would mean that about seven million of them had been victimized during their lifetime out of a total of about 17 million homosexuals and bisexuals.

However, only about 1,200 hate crimes based on sexual orientation are actually recorded by police per year. One is forced to conclude that a miniscule percentage of hate crimes are actually reported to the police by gays and lesbians.

Hate crimes targeting gays and lesbians appear to be even higher in England. A 2003 country-wide survey showed that 38% of gays and lesbians report having been the victim of a hate crime in the preceding twelve months. 3 The population of London is approximately seven million. 4 The percentage of gays and lesbians in that city is probably about 10% -- double the rate of the country as a whole. One can estimate that 700,000 homosexuals live there. Again, assuming that the rate of hate crimes in London is similar to that in the country generally, one would expect on the order of 250,000 offences. Yet only 1,097 homophobic offences were recorded by London police during 2002. Again, it appears that very few hate crimes are reported.

Needless to say, those:

bulletOpposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians emphasize that the actual number of offenses reported to the FBI is quite small.
bulletFighting for equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations emphasize the percentage homosexuals who report having been victims of hate crimes.

This web site is one of the few places where you can see a comparison of the two measuring methods.


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Hate Crime Statistice 2005," FBI, 2006-OCT, at: http://www.fbi.gov/
  2. Gregory Herek,et. al., "Hate crime victimization among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults," Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12(2): Pages 195-215. 
  3. Nigel Morris, "Homophobic attacks to be 'hate crimes'," 2003-OCT-31, Independent News, UK, at: http://news.independent.co.uk/
  4. "London city (state capital), population," Greatest Cities? at: http://www.greatestcities.com/

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Copyright © 1999 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-JUL-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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