Federal and State Law
At the federal level, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act covers crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Virginia’s hate crime laws address violence based on race, religion, and ethnic origin, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. Equality Virginia is dedicated to protecting the welfare of our LGBTQ youth and all Virginians. We believe that it is necessary to address the violence faced by members of the LGBT community and provide resources and tools for victims of hate crimes and other types of discrimination.
In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation which protect Virginians in same-sex relationships from domestic violence by providing protective orders for all Virginians, regardless of the parties involved. Read the full text here.
More attention is being paid to hate crimes of all varieties, but not all incidents of hate crime are reported to the police or by journalists, which means that many cases are going unnoticed.
In 2005, EV helped established the Virginia Anti-Violence Project, which works to end hate crimes and other forms of violence against Virginians. They recently published a report which states that approximately half of LGBT Virginians have faced violence or harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
While a program of EV, VAVP produced a report consisting of three major components from it’s findings during 2007-2008:
- State of Violence in LGBTQ Communities of Virginia Report
- LGBTQ Community Resource and Referral Guide
- Executive Summary of State of Violence Report
As its own independent organization since 2009, the Virginia Anti-Violence Project continues to seek to increase the communities’ capacity to respond to violence through education and awareness campaigns across the Commonwealth. VAVP continues to work with local LGBT organizations and community leaders to increase the effectiveness of community response to hate violence, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, bullying and harassment.
- If you have been the victim or witness of bullying, harassment, discrimination or violence Share your experiences with bullying or violence through Equality Virginia’s Tell It campaign.
- Meet with your state delegate and senator to educate them about the importance of declaring violence against the LGBT Virginians a hate crime. Click here to meet your legislator.