Fighting Hate Crimes
In 2002, a trio of French skinheads went cruising in a Rheims park, intending to vent their hate on an Arab. When they couldn’t find a suitable victim of Middle Eastern descent, they attacked François Chenu, a 29-year-old gay man. They left the severely beaten and unconscious Chenu in a pond, where he drowned.
Suddenly, François’s family members found themselves involuntarily immersed in trying to make sense of a senseless crime. Beyond Hatred documents their healing process using stark and revealing interviews with people who loved Chenu, as well as defense and prosecution lawyers involved in the trial of Chenu’s murderers.
After the trial, the Chenu family crafts a statement that says, in part, “Justice has been done. But we now wish each citizen to feel more concerned about all they can do to stop such a crime happening again.” Below are some actions that people might do to help prevent gay bashing and other hate crimes.
Investigate individual school policies and the types of anti-bias education currently available in your school district. Facilitate the inclusion of LGBT people by helping school officials identify qualified speakers and discussion leaders. Work with organizations like GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) or a local Gay-Straight Alliance group to ensure that LGBT people are covered by policies barring discrimination.
Brainstorm ways to challenge publicly political leaders or media personalities who promote intolerance. Choose one or two actions from your list and create a network to support those who are willing to speak out publicly on the group’s behalf.
Prepare and practice peaceful responses to gay bashing and be ready to respond should LGBT people in your community be the targets of violence or harassment. Consider how you could support victims and their loved ones, as well as other people who might be vulnerable to attack, and how you might help perpetrators develop more tolerant beliefs.
Determine whether or not there is (or should be) any pending hate crimes legislation in your locality or state. Let your elected officials know how you want them to vote on such legislation, if it exists.
Include a screening of Beyond Hatred as part of your community’s observance of Gay Pride Month (June) or as part of other gay pride events in your area.
Join local community groups and national organizations that are working on issues around hate crimes. Learn more about organizations working for change:
The ACLU’s LGBT Project fights discrimination and moves public opinion on LGBT rights through the courts, legislatures and public education across five issue areas: relationships, schools & youth, parenting, transgender and discrimination. Site visitors can get more involved through the “Get Busy. Get Equal” initiative, which provides tools on how to achieve LGBT equality.
This organization, based in New York City, provides counseling, advocacy, a bilingual hotline for victims of violence and more. It is dedicated to eliminating hate violence and sexual assault, specifically toward the LGBT and HIV-affected communities. You can take action by donating to or volunteering for the Anti-Violence Project.
This advocacy organization is devoted to achieving equal rights for LGBT people. The group’s website provides a variety of resources related to combating hate crimes, including news stories, legislative initiatives and a FAQ about hate crimes that includes the latest updates on anti-hate crimes legislation. You can support the Human Rights Campaign by hosting a house party, volunteering and more.
The Southern Poverty Law Center fights discrimination and works on tolerance education programs. The group’s website provides information on hate crimes, including documentation of hate incidents, and a hate groups map. You can add yourself to SPLC’s Stand Strong Against Hate map to indicate your opposition to racism in your community. You can also find out about more ways to take action, and you can subscribe to email news updates and donate to the cause.
This non-partisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First protects people at risk: refugees who flee persecution, victims of crimes against humanity or other mass human rights violations, victims of discrimination, those whose rights are eroded in the name of national security and human rights advocates who are targeted for defending the rights of others. Its Fighting Discrimination Program seeks to combat hate crimes and works to strengthen the response of North American, European, and Eurasian governments to racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, homophobic and similar forms of bias motivated violence.
This organization is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. GLAAD’s website has a Calls to Action page that encourages people to get involved with media campaigns and report media defamation.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network tracks the climate in various schools for LGBT youth and provides anti-bias education resources. The website provides tools and tips for both educators and young people to make schools more safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
This network of national and local groups works to campaign for LGBT rights around the world. Website visitors can find out about policies and actions in different regions, read articles about issues and join the organization.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading international organization dedicated to human rights advocacy on behalf of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The website contains links to online petitions, regional updates and training materials, and a calendar of events around the world.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. Lambda Legal’s “Take Action” page offers ways for people to get involved and informed by signing up for updates and volunteering legal services, if applicable.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in 1998. The Foundation focuses on three primary areas: erasing hate in our society, helping youth organizations establish environments where young people can feel safe and be themselves and fighting for equality for all LGBT Americans. Keep abreast of the latest news from the Foundation, including the progress of the Matthew Shepard Act in Congress, on the organization’s website. You can also share your story, donate and support the work of the organization.
This gay rights advocacy organization tracks hate crime statistics and has compiled state-by-state status reports on anti-hate crimes legislation. Learn about specific issues and actions in your state.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays has grassroots chapters around the United States that provide support and services to LGBT people and their families.