FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Spikes in violence occurred during Constitutional Convention to debate outlawing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts; Numbers up overall vs. 2003
There were 105 total incidents reported for 2004 and nearly 1/3 of them occurred during February and March, months when same-sex marriage was the focus of intense debate and demonstrations on Beacon Hill. Several victims reported that their attackers specifically referenced the marriage fight or marriage rights.
"In February and March of 2004, Massachusetts held two Constitutional Conventions, during which numerous anti-LGBT protesters convened on the statehouse to try to overturn the court's ruling on same-sex marriage. The fact that hate incidents increased during these two months is not coincidental,” says Violence Recovery Program Coordinator Emily Pitt. “These numbers bear out what the LGBT community has known for some time, that hate speech leads to hate violence."
The numbers also show a 30 percent increase in total incidents over 2003 and a 31 percent increase in the number of victims. Serial incidents (multiple hate crimes perpetrated against the same person) increased 240 percent in 2004.
State and city officials including John Gallagher, Superintendent, Boston Police Department and Massachusetts Senator Dianne Wilkerson joined Pitt and Fenway Community Health President and CEO Dr. Stephen Boswell at the press conference.
The local numbers were released in conjunction with national statistics compiled by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. The national numbers also show a correlation between anti-LGBT violence and the debate over same-sex marriage rights.
The Violence Recovery Program (VRP) at Fenway Community Health provides advocacy, support, counseling, court accompaniment, and community education to LGBT survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, hate crimes, and police misconduct. The VRP hotline number is 800.834.3242. All services are free, confidential and wheelchair accessible. VRP is a member organization of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
The mission of Fenway Community Health is to enhance the physical and mental health of its community, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Fenway provides high quality, comprehensive health care in a welcoming environment and seeks to improve the overall health of the larger community through education, training, advocacy, research and evaluation.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is a national network of organizations that provide advocacy for victims of domestic violence and bias crimes.