Equality Texas: Hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in Austin are becoming more violent

Emilie Kopp is on the board of directors for Equality Texas.

After doing some research on websites for the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Austin Police Department, she found what she says are unsettling numbers. “The total number of hate crimes in Austin between 2017 and 2018 increased 5 percent and that's bad for everyone,” she says.

Kopp adds, "While the number of hate crimes committed against LGBTQ as a bias or sexual orientation bias the number didn't increase between 2017 and 2018 the types/offenses were more violent in nature. So it's not just the number or volume but it's also it's the kind of offense that was committed. The difference between intimidation and assault and that's pretty scary."

She says this goes beyond hateful rhetoric, because now we're talking about physical violence, an even bigger problem, especially at the state-wide level. "If you look at the numbers and break it down by sexual orientation the increase between 2016 and 2017 is more than 400 percent. And that's when I get chills. That's something that makes me scared and makes my wife scared."

Kopp and her wife are no strangers to being verbally attacked. A year and a half ago they were downtown when someone yelled a gay slur at them. And just this week, this happened.

"It's heartbreaking and scary to get a text from my wife at 6:30 in the morning saying, ‘I just called the police and someone called me a gay slut after I stepped off the bus I hadn't done anything to provoke this person and someone felt the need to throw this gay slur out at me.’ It immediately throws you off your path that you didn’t provoke. And for the rest of that day and days, and weeks and months and who knows how much longer afterwards, this is something that hangs in your head. Who's going to attack me next is it worse. It's not just words it goes much deeper than that."

After discovering these numbers, Kopp and her wife encouraging others to come forward if anything like this happens to them. Physical or not. Kopp says right now is a good time to pay attention to what’s going on. Friday a bill moved forward that, if passed into law, would allow government officials to deny same sex marriage which goes against the supreme court ruling.

To learn more about hate crime statistics within Travis County, click here.



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