Stats Canada came out Monday with 2006 stats on hate crimes in Canada. The results confirm that hate crimes made up less than one per cent of all criminal incidents reported by police in 2006. Here are highlights from the report:
Police services covering 87 per cent of Canada's population reported 892 hate-motivated crimes in 2006, of which six in 10 were motivated by race or ethnicity.
Another quarter of hate crimes were motivated by religion, and one in 10 by sexual orientation.
The report said 56% of all hate crimes against homosexuals were violent, higher than the proportion of violent incidents motivated by race or ethnicity (38 per cent), or religion (26 per cent). Common assault was the most frequent type of violent offence.
As a result, incidents motivated by sexual orientation were more likely than other types of hate crime incidents to result in physical injury to victims.
Half of all hate-motivated crimes reported by police were property-related offences, usually mischief, while a third were violent offences such as assault, the study says.
Among the 502 incidents motivated by race or ethnicity in 2006, half were targeted at blacks, 13 per cent at South Asians and 12 per cent at Arabs or West Asians.
Among the 220 hate crimes reported by police to be motivated by religion, offences against Jews were the most common, accounting for 63 per cent of religion-based incidents.
Another 21 per cent were against Muslims and 6 per cent against Roman Catholics.
Young people aged 12 to 17 were more likely than older age groups to be accused of hate crimes. The 120 youth accused in 2006 accounted for 38 per cent of all persons accused of committing a hate crime – more than double the proportion of youth accused of committing non-hate crimes (18 per cent).
I remain contented that the police continue to report these kinds of unique crimes and relieved that these stats show that hate crimes remain a small percentage of overall crime in Canada. Of course, it's likely true that many hate crimes continue to go unreported by victims across the country.
I've often heard some criticize police stats like this, arguing we ought not to differentiate between hate crimes and other crimes. I agree that all crimes are serious, but when one is motivated to commit a criminal act against someone simply because of the victim's perceived membership in a group, we should treat such crimes differently. They are in a different category from the rest.
Furthermore, releasing stats like this helps remind Canadians that such acts take place at all. We have a tendency, as a culture, to sweep such hateful crimes under the rug and pretend they don't exist, perhaps because acknowledging is too disturbing.
I have never been the victim of a violent hate crime, thankfully. I've been verbally harassed and have felt threatened before based on my sexual orientation.
It's interesting that these stats reveal that anti-gay hate crimes remain the most violent, while those hate crimes committed based on race, ethnicity or religion were more property-related offences, usually mischief.
I suspect that LGBT citizens are less likely to report non-violent hate crimes. If someone scratched 'faggot' on my car or home, would I call the police? It's hard to say.