With less than a week before same-sex couples can get get married in New York, new data reveals that hate crimes against gay men in the state have increased.
There were 114 bias attacks against gay males in the state in 2010, a nearly 40 percent increase from 82 attacks in 2009, according to a new report from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (PDF).
Offenses against gay men were the most commonly reported hate crime in 2010, followed closely by crimes against blacks and Jews.
Two-thirds of the hate crimes in New York City against gay men occurred in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Ejeris Dixon of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, an organization that tracks violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said the increase in numbers may mean more victims are willing to come forward — not that more crimes are committed.
"What we would love to tease out is how much of it is an increase in people coming forward to report incidents or to receive support, and how much of it is an actual increase on violence," said Dixon.
Dixon added: "When visibility of LGBT communities rises, people learn more about anti-violence projects and then report more often," said Dixon.
If the numbers reflect an increase in violence, Dixon said that could mean a backlash against the visibility of gay rights issues during the last year such as the movement to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, the push to get gay marriage passed in New York and the first national summit on LGBT youth safety.