Disproportionate Harm: Hate Crime in Canada
As noted in the introduction, the phenomenon of hate crime is truly universal. Although a complete international survey is beyond the scope of this report, some data from the United States and the United Kingdom are presented to give the reader an idea of the extent and nature of the problem in those jurisdictions. These countries have been selected because they most closely resemble the Canadian context (in terms of legal culture and socio-cultural history) as well as because they are the jurisdictions with the most reliable crime statistics relating to hate motivation.
3.1.1 United States
According to the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act (to be described in greater detail later in this report), the federal Attorney General is mandated to acquire hate crime statistics. Since that year, these statistics have been available from the United States Federal Department of Justice. Table 1 provides a breakdown of hate crimes recorded by police across the United States in 1992. These data are drawn from law enforcement agencies in over 40 states. These participating agencies covered slightly over half the United States population (all data tables can be found in Appendix A of this report). As can be seen, the most frequent offence category of hate crime is threats, accounting for over one-third of all recorded incidents. This is followed by mischief/vandalism (23 percent of incidents) and simple assault (20 percent). Personal injury offences account for over one-third of incidents. In total, almost 9,000 incidents were recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the most recent year for which data are available at the time of writing.
Table 2 presents a classification of the hate crimes in the United States broken down according to the nature of the group targeted, from which it can be seen that the most frequent targets -- accounting for almost two-thirds of the incidents -- were racial minorities. The three other target categories (ethnic groups, religious groups and certain sexual orientation) each account for approximately the same percentage of incidents (between 10 and 15 percent). Within these categories, the following trends emerged. The most frequent racial category victimized was Black Americans, accounting for 59 percent of incidents. White American victims accounted for slightly less than half all the incidents in this category. Hispanic victims accounted for the majority of incidents in the ethnicity category, while anti-semitic incidents accounted for the vast majority (88 percent) of incidents in the religion category. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of the sexual orientation category were crimes against gay persons.
These data should not be interpreted as firm indicators of the relative incidence of different forms of hate crime. Rather, they presumably reflect both the actual incidence of such crimes as well as the likelihood that victims will report to the police. If some victims such as members of the gay and lesbian community (and as noted earlier, research suggests that this is in fact the case) are less likely to report than other victims, then the pattern of relative frequency revealed by this table is going to be distorted.
Table 3 provides a similar breakdown of hate crimes by target category in a major metropolitan centre which has collected hate crime statistics for some time (New York City). As can be seen in this table, the pattern is fairly similar to that found at the national level.
Table 4 gives a breakdown of hate crime target categories in New York city. This table shows that there is a clear relationship between the nature of the group targeted, and the offence committed. Hate crimes directed against individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation are more likely to be crimes against the person (e.g., assault). Thus over 40 percent of hate crimes against these three target groups were crimes of assault. By contrast, only six percent of hate crimes directed against religious targets were crimes of physical violence. The most likely category of hate crime involving a religious target was mischief, which accounted for over half the incidents recorded.
The data from the United Kingdom are of particular interest because they derive from two sources: a victimization survey and criminal incidents recorded by the police. Thus they include reported as well as unreported incidents. It is important to reiterate that the general term "hate crime" is not used in England and Wales; the data pertain only to racially-motivated crime.
The victimization survey data come from the latest administration of the British Crime Survey. This is a large survey of a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,000 adults in England and Wales which has been carried out repeatedly since 1982. It includes victimizations that occurred in the 12 months preceding the survey, whether they were reported to the police or not (see Mayhew, Maung and Mirrlees-Black, 1993, for further information on the BCS). Members of ethnic minorities were asked whether or not they thought that an incident had been racially motivated. Table 5 provides estimates of the numbers of incidents that respondents perceived to be racially motivated. Ranges are provided rather than specific numbers. As can be seen, the BCS data suggest that over 100,000 racially-motivated crimes occurred in the year covered by the survey. If a broader definition of hate crime had been used, one which included crimes such as anti-semitic incidents, the totals would obviously have been higher still.
Table 6 provides a breakdown of the proportion of incidents reported to the BCS survey for two minority groups: Afro-Caribbean and Asian. As can be seen, high percentages of certain crimes against these groups were perceived by the survey respondents to have been racially motivated. For example, over half the threats directed at Asian respondents were perceived by the victim to have been racially motivated. Almost half the incidents of assault against Asians, and almost half the incidents of assault against Afro-Caribbeans were racially-motivated (see Maung and Mirrlees-Black, 1994, for further information).
By comparing the BCS data to the number of racially-motivated crimes reported to the police, we can see shed light on the reporting rate of incidents of this crime. Fitzgerald (1995) reports the number of racial incidents reported to the police in England and Wales over the period 1988 to 1992. It is clear that the number of racial incidents reported to the police in 1992 is a small fraction of the number of incidents captured by the British Crime Survey (7,734).
3.2.1 Hate Crime Statistics Recorded by the Police
The collection of hate crime statistics by different police services across Canada is sufficiently variable to preclude an integrated analysis. Accordingly, statistics from those forces that participated in this survey and who provided data to the Department of Justice Canada will be summarized and discussed on an individual basis. At the conclusion of this section some summary statements will be made. It should be noted that the police forces represented here are those that responded with empirical data, although these data were not always in the form that permitted detailed secondary analysis. Some forces have not yet commenced the collection of hate crime data. The Ontario Provincial Police, for example, do not collect hate crime statistics, and there are no provisions for the collection of such data in the near future. The reason for this appears to be recognition that hate crime is largely an urban problem in Canada. The discussion that follows reflects the information submitted to the Department of Justice Canada. The reader should be aware that other forces may well have similar hate crime units, although this was not made known to the Department at the time that this survey was conducted. Appendix D contains a list of contact persons for the Hate Crime Units in the organizations contacted for this project.
The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force began to systematically collect
data on hate crimes in January 1993. This activity is part of an extensive hate crime initiative which reaches into the community. In addition to its investigative activities, the Hate Crime Unit also participates in public education in the area. For example, hate crime and hate propaganda posters and pamphlets have been developed and distributed to schools in the Toronto area. Members of the Hate Crime Unit also receive additional training. One benefit of the statistical data collected to date is that the Hate Crime Unit has initiated consultations with educators, community groups as well as other police officers in order to establish additional partnerships aimed at preventing and responding to crimes motivated by hate or bias. Since data for the whole of 1994 were not available at the time this report was written, most of the Toronto data discussed here come from 1993.
Table 7 provides a breakdown of hate crimes as a function of the nature of the group targeted. As can be seen, racial minorities account for the greatest percentage of incidents (50 percent), followed by religious groups (35 percent), sexual orientation (10 percent) and then ethnicity/nationality (5 percent). It should be noted that this breakdown may well reflect differential willingness to turn to the criminal justice system. If, as the research literature in other countries suggests, gay individuals are less likely to report crimes to the police, these statistics may under-represent the threat to the gay community, relative to other minorities, racial or otherwise.
Additional information was provided by the Toronto Police Service regarding the nature of the targets within specific target groups. Almost half (48 percent) of the racial incidents were directed against black individuals. The next most frequently targeted groups were East Indians (22 percent of incidents) andAsians (8 percent). Thirteen percent of the incidents were classified as multi-bias incidents and 8 percent were hate crimes directed at white targets. Turning to the classification of crimes in terms of ethnicity rather than race, it is clear that no particular ethnic group was targeted more frequently than any other. Almost all (94 percent) of the sexual orientation hate crimes were directed at gay males rather than lesbians. Not surprisingly, in light of the data from other sources, the vast majority of religious hate crimes (89 percent) were anti-semitic in nature.
Table 8 presents a breakdown of the Toronto police data according to offence category. Mischief (over and under combined) accounts for 39 percent of incidents recorded by the police. Assault is the next most frequent category, accounting for one incident in four.
The data from Toronto also show that personal injury offences are more likely to be directed to racial minorities, as the following statistics for the two most frequent offence categories reveal. Of the assault reports, over three-quarters (77 percent) were directed at racial groups. Religious groups were more likely to be the victims of property crimes: almost a third of mischief offences were directed at religious groups, but only seven percent of the assaults were directed at this target category (see Table 9).
The Toronto data are also useful because they provide some insight into the typical offender. The majority of the offenders arrested for a hate crime were young males under 20 years of age. Most were first offenders. These findings are consistent with research conducted in other jurisdictions. Thus Levin and McDevitt (1993) report that in New York City, the median age of hate crime offenders was 18, almost 10 years younger than the median for offenders in general. In Sweden, most hate crime offenders were under twenty at the time of the commission of the offence (see Loow, 1995).
Data from the first six months of 1994 show a modest increase in the proportion of all hate crimes directed at racial groups (50 to 58 percent) with a corresponding decline in the amount of hate crime involving religious groups. This is worth noting because it means there has been an increase in the proportion of hate crimes involving offences against the person, since racial hate crimes are far more likely to involve violence (than are hate crimes directed at religious targets - see below).
The data from the first half of 1994 are also noteworthy because they suggest an increase in the absolute level of hate crime activity in the city ofToronto. A total of 112 occurrences were recorded in this period. This is a 55 percent increase in reported hate crime incidents over the preceding year. However, it is important to point out that as with changes in other crime trends, this increase could also reflect an increased willingness to report such incidents to the criminal justice system. The police appear to attribute the increase to greater public confidence in the Metropolitan Toronto Force.
It seems more likely that the increase reflects a genuine increase in the number of hate crimes as well as a shift in the mix of offences. The trend observed in the police statistics confirms what was noted in the B'nai Brith data from the same year (see later section of this report). Since the B'nai Brith data are independent of the police and are unaffected by public expectations of the criminal justice response, this suggests a genuine increase in offending. As for the offence mix, it is clear that there has been an increase in the proportion of hate crimes that involve violence, and personal injury offences are more likely to be reported to the police than crimes involving property. This would have the effect of inflating the statistics.
184.108.40.206 Police de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal
This police service began collecting data on anti-semitic incidents in 1988.In 1990, racially-motivated crimes were added and this was followed in 1992 by the creation of a computerized database, to which officers were required to submit reports. The hate crime initiative was formally created in 1994, and comprehensive reports on hate crime activity are now released on a regular basis (three times a year). As well, an annual report is published. In addition to the collection of systematic statistics and the prosecution of hate crimes, individuals from the Montreal force also participate in conferences and workshops on the subject of responding to hate crimes. For the purposes of the present report, findings derive from the period January 1, 1994 to December 31, 1994. In this period there were 199 incidents of hate-motivated crimes in the Montreal community that were recorded by the police. Of these, the vast majority (79 percent) were directed at racial minorities: no other target category accounted for more than nine percent of the incidents recorded (see Table 10).
Overall, two-thirds of the hate crime incidents recorded in Montreal in 1994 involved crimes against the person, with the remaining one-third classified as property crimes. A more detailed offence breakdown is provided in Table 11. As can be seen, assault was the offence which accounted for the greatest percentage of reports (34 percent).
An interesting interaction exists between the nature of the crime and the particular group targeted. Hate crimes directed against gays are significantly more likely to involve violence. Thus almost nine out of ten hate crimes against gay targets involve violence, while only 30 percent of anti-semitic hate crimes involved a crime against the person. Anti-black hate crimes fell between these two extremes: 69 percent of hate crime incidents were crimes against the person. The 1994 annual report concludes from this that the anti-semitic incidents are the work of racist organizations, while the other two categories are more likely to be accounted for by individual acts of racial intolerance.
Since 1994 was the first year of full collection of comprehensive data, historical comparisons are problematic. However, examination of the anti-semitic statistics show a relatively stable pattern over the period 1988 to 1992, with a significant increase over the last two years for which such statistics are available (1992-1994). It is not clear what is responsible for this recent increase, although it seems consistent with increases elsewhere. The final observation about the Montreal data is that several districts have particularly high rates of hate crime incidents. Thus while two-thirds of the districts have relatively uniform rates, five districts report numbers of incidents up to five times in excess of the area average.
Data from the Montreal police also provide information on the criminal justice outcome in hate crime incidents. A criminal charge was laid in 17 percent of the 198 incidents reported. While this may seem like a small percentage, two considerations should be borne in mind. First, a significant number of hate crimes are directed against property, and a criminal charge is laid in only a small percentage of property crimes recorded by the police. For example, in 1993 (the most recent year for which data are available), the "cleared by charge" statistic for Canada (aggregated across offences) was 16 percent (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1994). Second, it is clear from research in other jurisdictions that hate crimes are notoriously hard to clear by the laying of a charge. A charge rate for hate crimes that is slightly higher than the average rate of charging shows the additional effort that police agencies have directed to this form of criminality.
The Ottawa Police Service has perhaps the most organized bias crime unit in the country. The unit evolved out of sustained liaison with the community of Ottawa. The experience in Ottawa shows that the police-community partnership is a critical way of responding to the special problems created by hate crimes. The Ottawa Unit is unique in other respects too. As a recent publication notes:
What makes the [Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Bias Crime] Unit different is that there is a legitimate investigative function. In addition, the Unit has an intelligence and educational component. We believe that all three are necessary in order to properly address the concern of bias motivated crimes (Ottawa Police Service, 1994: 1).
The Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Bias Crime Unit was established in January 1993. Modelled on the Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit, it reflects a grass-roots approach to the problem hate crimes which stresses the importance of consultation with community groups. The unit is comprised of two investigators and a sergeant. In addition to its investigative function, the Unit is also very active in community education. Members of the Unit deliver lectures to community groups, minority groups as well as the news media.
The Ottawa Police Service submission to the Department of Justice Canada request contains hate crime statistics for a two-year period from January 1993 to December 1994. In 1993, there were 176 hate crime incidents recorded by the Ottawa Police Bias Crime Unit. This rose to 211 in 1994. Over the two-year period covered by the data, there were 387 cases. Consistent with the trends in Toronto and Montreal, Table 12 shows that the most frequent targets of hate crimes in Ottawa were racial minorities, followed by religious groups. Table 13 shows that Blacks are the most frequently targeted racial group. Anti-semitic incidents accounted for almost all (87 percent) of the religious category. Of the 45 incidents directed at individuals on account of their sexual orientation, 93 percent were directed at males, 7 percent at females.
It is clear that the interaction between the nature of the crime and the
nature of the target group is replicated in the Ottawa statistics. That is, the vast majority of hate crimes directed against racial minorities involved violence or the threat of violence. Cases of vandalism against this target group accounted for a small percentage of incidents. Anti-semitic hate crimes on the other hand were far more likely to involve mischief or vandalism.
220.127.116.11 Ontario Provincial Police
While it is anticipated that such information may be required in the future, at the present time the O.P.P. have not yet begun to collect hate crime statistics. It is worth noting however that a guidelines exist for the investigation of hate-motivated crime. These guidelines include an explanatory description of hate crimes, along with explicit criteria for identifying hate-motivated incidents.
Since hate crimes are concentrated in urban centres (in Canada at least), this organization has no statistical data relating to such offences.
Collection of statistics relating to hate crimes began in January 1994. The Halifax Police Department has taken steps to ensure that all members of the force are aware of the existence of hate crimes. The Halifax Police Department has appointed a Race Relations Coordinator, with a mandate to raise and promote awareness both in the community and the force itself, of the problem of hate crimes. This police department recorded only three hate crime incidents over the most recent period for which data are available (January to October, 1994).
The Edmonton Police Service has been involved in identifying and collecting statistics on Bias Motivated Crimes since September 1994. Since that time, all members of the force have been trained in responding to incidents of hate-motivated crime. This police service recorded three incidents of hate crimes for the period September to November 1994. Two of these were directed against racial minorities, the third was an incident of anti-semitism.
Finally, it is worth noting that some police agencies (such as the Vancouver Police) have a hate crime policy in practice, and also record hate crimes, although they did not participate in the survey which gave rise to this report.
Since there is considerable variability in terms of the targets selected in different parts of the country, Table 15 provides a breakdown of target categories for all reported incidents combined. These percentages are weighted to reflect the different rates of reporting, and do not include the B'nai Brith data or incidents of crimes against gays or lesbians (which will be discussed later in this report). As can be seen, 61 percent of the almost 1,000 hate crime incidents recorded by the police were directed at racial minorities. The next most frequent category was religious groups, (almost all anti-semitic incidents), followed by sexual orientation and ethnic origin. This table also presents a breakdown of hate crime targets from the United States. It is interesting to note that the pattern of victimization is very similar in the two countries: racial minorities account for almost two-thirds of all incidents recorded by the police.
Following analyses used in other countries, it is possible to generate an estimate of the number of hate crimes that occur in Canada on an annual basis. Such an estimate will of course be highly speculative. Nevertheless, using the Ottawa police statistics as a basis, we can perform some extrapolations. There is no reason to suppose that Ottawa has a higher than average incidence of hate crimes. Indeed, the relatively small percentage of non-white residents (compared to Toronto for example) suggests that a broader estimate of the number of hate crimes based on the Ottawa statistics is likely to underestimate the magnitude of the problem.
Since hate crime is largely (although not necessarily exclusively) an urban phenomenon, we shall restrict the analysis to the following major urban centres: Halifax; Montreal; Ottawa; Toronto; Winnipeg; Regina; Calgary; Edmonton; Vancouver. The analysis that follows draws upon recently published crime statistics for these cities (see Hendrick, 1995). The data are drawn from 1994. In that year, the police in Ottawa recorded 211 hate crimes. If we assume a reporting rate of one third, this means that 633 verified (i.e., founded) incidents occurred in that year. Since Ottawa accounts for 7 percent of the total Criminal Code infractions for this group of urban centres, an estimate of the total number of hate crimes committed in these cities would be slightly under 60,000 (59,502). Such an estimate is not out of line with other countries. It will be recalled that it was estimated that there were over 100,000 racially-motivated crimes in the United Kingdom, and this estimate was based on a single form of hate crime. If a lower reporting rate was used in the calculation, the total number of estimated incidents would obviously be higher. The accuracy of an estimate of this kind remains to be verified by future research drawing upon victimization surveys. However accurate it turns out to be, one trend is clear: using police statistics as the sole index of hate crime activity is going to seriously underestimate the magnitude of the problem across the country.
As noted in the introduction, hate crimes are among the most under-reported offences. This means that an examination of hate crimes derived from the criminal justice system (i.e., incidents recorded by the police) would seriously underestimate the prevalence of these incidents, as well as distort the nature of the problem. For this reason, at this point we turn to hate crime statistics derived from two sources outside the criminal justice system. These two sources were selected because they represent the groups most often affected by hate.
18.104.22.168 B'nai Brith Data
The best data available on the incidence of hate crimes of a particular category in Canada come from the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. These statistics have been compiled for over a decade now, and are publicly available in the annual "Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents". Since the same definitions (and criteria for inclusion) have been used over this period, and the same mechanisms employed to record incidents, this data base provides a unique historical record of hate crimes in Canada over the past 13 years. The B'nai Brith database is therefore a vital resource for anyone wishing to know more about the incidence of hate crimes. These data are restricted to incidents of anti-semitism. However, anti-semitic hate crimes constitute one of the principal hate crime targets in Canada, and the principal hate crime target in other jurisdictions as well.
The B'nai Brith data are presented separately in this report because they are qualitatively different from the statistics recorded by the police (although some of the incidents recorded by the B'nai Brith will presumably have also been reported to the police).
Incidents included in the database are classified either as episodes of vandalism or harassment. The annual document describes the former as:
an act involving physical damage to property. It includes graffiti, swastikas, desecrations of cemeteries and synagogues, other property damage, arson and other criminal acts such as thefts and break-ins where an anti-semitic motive can be determined (League for Human Rights, 1995: 3).
"Harassment" includes "anti-semitic hate propaganda distribution, hate mail and verbal slurs or acts of discrimination against individuals. Death threats and bomb threats against individuals and property, as well as any kind of physical assault" (League for Human Rights, 1995: 3).
It is clear then, that the B'nai Brith data are more inclusive than hate crime statistics gathered by the police. Some of the incidents that are included in the B'nai Brith database would not be considered crimes, even though the social harm may be as great or greater than a crime, and the acts may be even more morally reprehensible. The B'nai Brith data provide a broader insight into hate-motivated behaviour than can be obtained from police reports. For this reason, the B'nai Brith data will be referred to as hate activity incidents, rather than crimes, per se.
Before describing recent trends in anti-semitic incidents, it is worth making a few observations about the B'nai Brith statistics. First, these incidents are primarily the result of reports by victims themselves. This differs from police statistics, where a higher proportion are likely to arise from witnesses. Second, not all reports result in an entry in the annual Audit. The League for Human Rights conducts a thorough investigation of each incident in order to establish that anti-semitism was indeed the underlying motivation. Third, an attempt is made to ensure comparability from year to year, so that the database is unaffected by changing thresholds of proof. The criteria for inclusion have been constant since the Audit was established in 1982. In this sense, on a national level the B'nai Brith statistics are purer than criminal justice statistics which, as noted earlier, use variable definitions of what constitutes a hate crime. Finally, it is important to point out that, as with police statistics, the B'nai Brith data represent but a fraction of incidents of anti-semitism in this country. For a number of reasons, a great deal of anti-semitism passes unrecorded by either the police or B'nai Brith. When the 1994 Audit reports 290 incidents, it should not be taken that this represents anything other than a fraction of the true total of anti-semitic incidents across Canada.
Table 16 provides a breakdown of anti-semitic incidents recorded by the League for Human Rights since 1982. Several trends are apparent from this table.
First, there has been a steady increase in the recorded number of anti-semitic incidents over the decade, rising from 63 in 1982 to almost 300 in 1994, the most recent year for which data are currently available. Second, harassment incidents have accounted for approximately two-thirds of all incidents over the entire period. Third, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of incidents recorded in recent years. Thus there were 196 incidents recorded in 1992. The total for 1994 was 290, which represents an almost 50 percent increase in two years. These data underline the fact that anti-semitism is clearly a social problem in Canada.
Table 17 makes it clear that incidents of anti-semitism reported to and recorded by the League for Human Rights are concentrated in three principal cities: Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Together these cities account for over 80 percent of the incidents of anti-semitism in Canada that are captured by this database. There are several possible explanations for this finding. These three cities have large Jewish communities. This increases the number of potential targets. As well, awareness of the League for Human Rights Audit may be greater in these cities, thereby increasing the likelihood that a victim will contact the B'nai Brith.
22.214.171.124 Hate Crimes Directed at Gays and Lesbians
The second non-criminal justice source of data drawn upon in this report concerns hate-motivated crimes directed against gays and lesbians. The research literature in other jurisdictions makes it clear that gays and lesbians are a prime target for hate-motivated crimes, and have been for many years. In addition, gay and lesbian victims are probably less likely to report to the police than any other group. For this reason, a portrait of hate crime incidents in Canada would be inadequate without some information about crimes directed against gays and lesbians. The data provided in this report are far from exhaustive; they derive from organizations in two major cities: Toronto and Montreal. They are provided to give an indication of the scope of the problem within the gay community.
The principal source of information about hate crimes in Toronto is the 519 Church St. Community Centre. One of the activities of this community centre was the creation, in 1990, of a "Gay and Lesbian Bashing Hotline". A confidential report is completed about all calls to this line. This information is then communicated to the police for further investigation. The line is available during the Centre's opening hours. In mid-November 1994, the Centre hired a full-time Trainer and Educator for the Victim Assistance Program. This individual currently processes all the reports made to the line. As well, she trains volunteers to handle incoming reports. The line is now known as the Lesbian and Gay Bashing Reporting and Information Line.
Two caveats are worth making regarding these data. First, it is important to note that, as with police statistics, these data do not capture the all the incidents of anti-gay activity taking place in Toronto. The majority of incidents are, for a variety of reasons, reported neither to the hotline nor the police. Second, these data -- like the British Crime Survey data (but unlike the police statistics) --consist of reports of incidents in which the victim reports the hate motivation. It is possible that some of these incidents involve crimes that were not motivated by hatred of gays or lesbians, but were seen that way by the victim.
Over 90 percent of the calls to the Toronto hotline were made by gay men. However, this statistic should not be taken to suggest that lesbians are significantly less likely to be the target of harassment or assault on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Although no direct evidence is available in Canada, research in other countries suggests that the nine to one ratio represents a differential willingness to report incidents to either a hotline or the police and that, in fact, lesbians are almost as likely to be the target of hate-motivated crimes as gay men.
Table 18 presents a breakdown of incidents reported to the hotline over the period January 1, 1990 to April 1, 1995. As can be seen, there is a high incidence of physical assault: almost half (46 percent) of the incidents involved some form of physical assault. Almost a third of incidents involved some form of verbal harassment, while 15 percent of reports involved a threat of some form. Less than 10 percent were hate-motivated cases of vandalism or theft. A further 12 reports were made concerning reports of assaults against gays by police officers (these are not included in Table 18). Some indication of the gravity of the incidents reported to the hotline can be found in Table 19, which provides a breakdown of the 50 percent of respondents who reported some form of injury. All respondents reported bruising of some kind, with almost one in five reporting a fracture (percentages exceed 100 percent due to multiple responses). Of the 22 cases of head injuries, one-third resulted in concussion. These data suggest that crimes of violence directed against gays and lesbians involve a greater degree of injury than the average assault. The revised U.C.R. survey contains information on the severity of assaults reported to the police across Canada. Recent statistics show that of all assaults reported involving a male victim, major injuries were involved in fewer than one case in ten reported to the police (see Roberts, 1994c: 83). This is also consistent with research in the United States.
The majority of these incidents (53 percent) had not been reported to the police. Approximately 40 percent had been reported to the police, while a further three individuals planned to report the incident. This information was unavailable for 14 cases (no information are directly available on why individual victims did not report the incident). The fact that most incidents had not been reported to the police explains, in part, why such a small number result in official action by the criminal justice system. Of the 239 reports recorded by the hotline, only 104 were reported to the police. Of these, charges were laid in 8 cases, and convictions recorded in only 2 cases. Convictions are recorded in a very small percentage of crimes committed. However, the data from the 519 Church Street Toronto Hotline suggest that a much smaller percentage of hate crimes result in a conviction. Recent data from Statistics Canada show that on average, a conviction is recorded in approximately one crime in twenty. The percentage of hate crimes resulting in a conviction is clearly much smaller.
An analysis of calls to a hotline is no substitute for systematic research. For obvious reasons, such calls are likely to represent a somewhat distorted image of violence against the gay community. Nevertheless, in the absence of more rigorous research, this source of information is the best available. However, superior data relating to anti-gay incidents in Toronto will soon be available. In 1995, the 519 Church Street Community Centre conducted a survey of the gay and lesbian community in Toronto. The questionnaire contained a number of in-depth questions relating to harassment and physical and verbal abuse. Since it was a survey, and not an analysis of calls to a hotline, the responses are likely to give a far more accurate image of anti-gay violence in the Toronto Community.
Unfortunately, statistics on hate crimes in Montreal are restricted to the police data. The only non-criminal justice data come from a study conducted by the Table de concertation des lesbiennes et des gais du Grand Montreal. This study was conducted over a three-month period in 1993. It was discontinued only as a result of a lack of resources. Over the period covered there were 54 reported incidents. However, some of these reports (as with other victimization surveys) concerned incidents that took place prior to the period covered by the survey. Accordingly, it is impossible to draw conclusions about the numbers of incidents, and whether the rate of anti-gay crime is higher in Montreal than Toronto. However, the data are useful for providing information on the nature of thecrimes. The Montreal statistics confirm the picture emerging from Toronto. Thus, over half the incidents involved violence. In fact, acts of aggression were the most frequent category of incident reported. Almost all (83 percent) of the victims were gay men. Almost half the incidents resulted in physical trauma, and one-quarter resulted in material loss of some kind.
These data support the findings from other jurisdictions which show that crimes of hate directed against the gay community are more likely to involve violence, or the threat of violence, than hate crimes directed at other groups.
Before leaving the Montreal data it is worth noting that evidence exists in that city of the most extreme form of hate crime. In December 1992, two gay men were murdered by groups of teenagers, and since then there have been several more such incidents. Over the period 1988 to 1995, thirty gay individuals have been murdered under conditions that strongly suggest a homophobic motivation. In March, 1995, The Globe and Mail reported the murder of Quebec actor Richard Niquette, who was stabbed to death by men who preyed on homosexuals. The Globe noted that he was the "19th gay man to be killed under similar circumstances in the past four years" (Globe and Mail, March 3, 1995). This most extreme form of hate crime, which can provoke widespread alarm among members of the community, clearly requires a vigorous response from the criminal justice system, beginning with the police.
Finally, it should be noted that some respondents in both cities reported acts of aggression by police officers. These remain unsubstantiated at present, and until evidence is adduced to substantiate them it would be unwise to judge the officers concerned. However, acts of aggression by police officers are obviously far more serious than similar crimes by civilians as they undermine public confidence and reduce still further the likelihood that these crimes will be reported to the criminal justice system.
- Date modified: