Crimes of hatred date back as far in history as ancient civilizations. A crime of hate occurs when wrong-doing is done to a particular group of people. Hate crime is a form of prejudice that can be directed as groups of individuals based on religious preference, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other defining characteristic. When two different groups come in contact with one another, the possibility of conflict or tension can happen. In recent decades, America fell to hate crimes when African Americans were lynched and synagogues were vandalized. In current times, the most targeted group of victimization are homosexual men and women. Teenagers have seen the most hatred when bullies out or taunt them in school because of his or her sexuality. Brief History of Hate Crimes
The earliest example of hate crimes is from the Roman Empire, which persecuted various religious groups. Other examples of hate crimes around the world include the Nazi’s persecution of Jewish people. This included an annihilation of Jews and the creation of death camps. This was known to history as the Holocaust. In recent years, the attempt to obliterate or genocide on an entire racial, religious, or ethnic group has occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia. In the United States, a majority of hate crimes result from prejudiced based on sexual orientation or race. Crimes against these groups take the form of assault, intimidation, and vandalism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s statistics have shown that crimes of hate are becoming all too common-place in America.
Crimes of Hate Against Sexual Preference
Where most hatred reflects against the sexual preferences of individuals occurs in one of the places that someone should feel safe, school. In a Minnesota school district, within a three-week span four teenagers committed suicide. In one year, a total of seven students committed suicide (Potok, 2010). Each of these individuals were taunted or bullied for being homosexuals. In New York, 10 individuals were arrested for torturing three gay victims. As mentioned, these crimes occur as violent occurrences, or something as non-lethal as vandalism. A lesbian couple found their garage had the word “queer” spray painted on it. Although the suicides of the students created media attention for a few days, gay rights activists say that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender) world has seen violence for a long time.
Many Americans believe that places of worship contribute to the high suicide rates of lesbian and gay youth. Americans also believe that these places of worship contribute to the negative views against lesbian and gay individuals. From a survey taken, it was found that 44% of Americans also believe that same-sex relations are a sin. Case of Hate Crimes
With the many cases of hate crimes against gays and lesbians, a recent case can be discussed. In April 2011, David Jason, and Anthony Ray Jenkins kidnapped Kevin Pennington. Pennington escaped, but the men planned on assaulting him because of his sexual preference. The two men were brought in front of a federal jury and were convicted of kidnapping, but the jury acquitted them of committing a hate crime. Federal laws for hate crimes were expanded in 2009 to include victims with a different sexual orientation, disability, or gender. In 1998, Matthew Shepard became the victim of an anti-LGBT hate crime. Shepherd was murdered as a result of this crime and galvanized the LGBT community and their allies to push for more legal protection against future acts of hate. A bill named after him and another man, James Byrd, Jr. (the victim of a racially motivated crime), became law in 2009. The Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that created the federal criminal law prohibiting attacks on other individuals because of perceived or actual gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, or disability of any person (Israel, 2012). Restorative Justice
An approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the offenders, and the victims is known as restorative justice. Restorative justice includes offender accountability through making amends and accountability, offender competencies, address the victims needs, and community responsibility to repair the harm caused by the crime. To help prevent crimes against homosexuals, communities should be made aware of the laws and what the consequences can be if these crimes are committed. One main goal of restorative justice is to repair harm. Repair can include working with the offender not to commit more crimes, an apology, and compensation for the victim. Conclusion
Throughout history, crimes of hate have occurred against different ethnic, racial, religious, and sexual-oriented groups. In more recent years, the attention given to crimes against homosexuals, including the children who are bullied in school that causes them to commit suicide, have been brought to a forefront. Using restorative justice can bring more of an understanding of these individuals and can remind people who are against who they are that there will be consequences for acts of hate being done to them.
Israel, J. (2012, October 12). Remembering Matthew Shepherd, Fourteen Years Later. Retrieved from http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/10/12/1003261/remembering-matthew-shepard-twelve-years-later/?mobile=nc Potok, M. (2010). Gays Remain Minority Most Targeted by Hate Crime. Retrieved from http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/under-attack-gays-remain-minority-mos