Nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation, according to a new study by University of California, Davis, psychology professor Gregory Herek.
This is the most reliable estimate to date of the prevalence of anti-gay victimization in the United States, Herek said. The data demonstrate that crimes against sexual minority adults, especially gay men, are disturbingly widespread.
Hereks findings were based on a survey he conducted in the fall of 2005 with a nationally representative sample of 662 self-identified gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. The study will be published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Overall, 21 percent of the people in the survey reported being the victim of violence or a property crime -- including physical assault, sexual assault, theft and vandalism -- because of their sexual orientation. In addition, 49 percent said they had been verbally abused because of their sexual orientation, 23 percent reported being threatened with violence, 12.5 percent reported having objects thrown at them, and 11 percent reported housing or job discrimination.
These data highlight the continuing need for criminal justice programs to prevent and deter anti-gay crimes, as well as the need for victim services that will help to alleviate the physical, economic, social and psychological consequences of such crimes, Herek said.
The study found significantly different rates of victimization among gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. More than a third of the gay men said they had experienced violence or property crime because of their sexual orientation, or about three times the proportion of lesbians and bisexuals. Gay men also reported the highest rates of harassment and verbal abuse. And gay men and lesbians reported two to four times more housing and job discrimination than bis
Contact: Claudia Morain
University of California - Davis