Violence against GLBT individuals is down both nationally and locally, according to groups that study the issue. However, it’s not all good news. Reports in Colorado also show that the severity of violent incidents has gone up, and it may get worse as the election gets closer.
“We found that incidents of violence against gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals had actually fallen,” said Veronica Garcia, spokesperson for the Colorado Anti-Violence Program (COAVP), a non-profit support group for GLBT victims.
“But what we do know is that although the number of incidents fell, the severity of the incidents that we experienced actually increased,” Garcia said.
Last May, COAVP released its annual study detailing reported incidents in Colorado in 2005. At the same time, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), a group that monitors incidents all around the country, released its annual findings for the same year.
According to the reports, there was a 13% decrease in GLBT violence nationally, which can range from verbal abuse all the way to homicide. Anti-GLBT murders also fell 15%, while the number of offenders fell 6%.
In Colorado, COAVP found that documented victims fell more than 50%, a fact which the group attributes to a drop in reports from other organizations.
But while the victims fell, the number of them needing medical attention increased by 17%, and assaults increased 38%. There was also the murder of Kevin Eugene Hale, an openly gay man in Montrose, Colorado.
Another factor in the reports was the relation to violence with GLBT politics and polarization:
Colorado voters will decide whether or not to allow domestic partnerships for same-sex couples this November, and if they want to define marriage as strictly between one man and one woman. The implications of these ballot measures remains to be seen, and will probably not be known until a report can be compiled for 2006.
When asked whether GLBT violence was more prominent in rural or urban areas, Garcia said that there were more incidents in the Denver-Metro area, although she doesn’t know if it is because COAVP is based in the city. She also noted though, that violence wasn’t limited to greater populations.
“It’s all across the state. We have reports that come in from some of the smallest most rural areas all the way on up to the Denver-Metro area in its entirety,” she said.
Along with educational services, COAVP also provides a toll-free 24 hour crisis phone line for victims being harassed or abused.