Title: 'Hate Crimes' - sadly, still topical Credit: Craig Young Comment Saturday 28th April 2007 - 12:00pm1177718400 Article: 1690 Rights
Hate Crimes: Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men Greg Herek and Kevin Berrill (ed) Newbury Park: Sage 1992. Originally, this collection was a volume of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence [5:5, 1990], centred on antigay hate crimes. Kevin Berrill provides an opening paper centred on demographic breakdowns of assailants and survivors of such violence, alike. He identifies younger lesbians and gay men, as well as members of ethnic minorities, as experiencing greater risk from homophobic young male peers. Beatrice von Schulthess examines this in the context of violence against lesbians within the San Francisco metropolitan area. Berrill argues that verbal abuse, throwing objects at people, assault with hand-held weapons and stalking are chief factors in the incidence of aggravated assault against lesbians and gay men. Laura Dean, Shanyu Wu and John Martin argue that age diminishes risk of assault, but class background and ethnic minority status increase risk. Howard Ehrlich provides a geographical context for the incidence of antigay violence, whether in streets, residential neighbourhoods, educational facilities or workplaces. Younger assailants attack lesbians and gay men within the neighbourhood environment, while older assailants victimise lesbians and gay men in the workplace. Who are the assailants, though? Jospeh Harry, Richard Berk, Liz Boyd and Karl Hamner analyse then-current statistics about perpetrators and identify a large cohort as teenagers or twentysomethings, as this group is also found in peak statistics related to other delinquent anti-social behaviour. At this stage of their lives, the age cohorts in question are trying to establish their independence from parental and/or educational authority, and racism and class inequality affect their lives adversely, reducing life opportunities. Because of this factor, they act out aggressive forms of masculinity based on physical prowess, emphasising heterosexual male supremacy. They may have a record of bullying "softer" males during their somewhat truncated educational history. Hate crimes occur against identifiable groups designated as victims, which provides attackers with an excuse to position themselves as strongly group-identified members- whether white, in the context of organised racist violence, Christian, in the context of anti-Muslim/anti-Semitic hate crimes, youth, in the context of aggravated assault against elderly people- or heterosexual, in the context of violence against lesbians and gay men. Youth, poverty and intoxication particularly fuel this identification. The remainder of the papers deal with the psychological consequences of homophobic victimisation, and focus on social and individual isolation, exile from the site of the hate crime, and perceptions of violation, humiliation, degradation, vulnerability and dependence on others. David Wertheimer focuses on therapeutic needs for victims of hate crimes. Survivors need to be enabled to reassert self-respect, identify their future options, and assert victims rights status as survivors of aggravated assault. This may mean holding police and social services accountable for service delivery, and collective organisation of LGBTs against hate crimes through group meetings, establishing counselling and trauma relief services, maintaining those services, documenting the existence of homophobic violence, liaising with relevant professionals to provide suitable individual and group counselling, police/LGBT liaison, and assistance to prosecutors in pursuit of assailants in cases of homophobic violence. Finally, Herek and Berrill deal with the importance of documenting cases of victimisation. These need to be detailed incident reports that focus on victim background, attributes of assailants, demographic data and need to be consistently recorded. It is long past time New Zealand's LGBT communities took the useful evidence-based research in this book and established and maintained our own anti-violence prevention and treatment groups to deal with this serious aspect of our oppression. Craig Young - 28th April 2007    
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