Columbus--The two Ohio cities that provide data for the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs� annual report on anti-gay hate crimes saw opposite trends for 2004, according to the report released on April 26.
Columbus reported 209 total incidents, up from 202 in 2003. However, the 2003 figures showed a slight decrease from the year before, when 211 incidents were reported.
Columbus� figures, reported to the NCAVP by the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, have remained relatively stable since 1999.
There was a nine percent increase in the number of victims, from 257 in 2003 to 280 in 2004, but the most startling statistic was a 57% rise in the number of victims of anti-gay crimes who identified themselves as heterosexual.
In Cleveland, however, where statistics are gathered by the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, the number of reported incidents plummeted from 17 in 2003 to 5 in 2004.
Nationally, there was an eight percent increase in the number of incidents reported in the 11 areas which contribute to the NCAVP report.
Of the 3,252 incidents reported to NCAVP, 20 were murders, compared to 18 in 2003. Intimidation and verbal harassment comprised the bulk of the reports, with 1,924 incidents reported. There were 618 assaults or attempted assaults and 112 sexual assaults or rapes.
Tim Marshall, communications director of the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, indicated that Cleveland�s drop in numbers does not indicate a drop in incidents in the city.
Marshall said that the center only records crimes that are reported to them. He noted that the hostile political climate in Ohio may have caused a reticence among victims of violence, or a feeling that they were not entitled to report the violence as hate crimes.
However, he added that there were programs that can help victims of hate crimes that are not available to them if they do not report the crimes.
Gloria McCauley, BRAVO�s executive director, has previously noted the mercurial nature of the reports.
�These numbers are not the be-all and end-all in central Ohio,� she said after last year�s report was released. �It�s an indicator that there�s a lot of work to be done in the general community, but it�s also an indicator of success in the LGBT community.�
The NCAVP report includes six cities and five states, covering about 27% of the U.S. population. In addition to Cleveland and Columbus, these are San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and New York City, plus Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Colorado.
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