The Vancouver Police Department released new data Wednesday that shows a significant increase in the number of hate-motivated incidents reported this year against members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Statistics for the first six months of 2023 indicate there were 28 incidents investigated by police, compared to nine for the same period in 2022, according to the data, which accompanies a report that points to under-reporting in the community.
“The VPD has been actively engaging with the 2SLGBTQ+ community by establishing a community liaison committee and is currently addressing under-reporting in this community,” said the report, which did not provide details of the incidents or where they occurred.
The data was released the same day that thousands of people across the country, including in Vancouver, took to the streets to voice their opinions about school policies on gender identity.
The rallies were organized by a group called “Hands Off Our Kids.”
The group’s website said its mission is to “unite people for a noble cause, to safeguard children from gender ideology teachings, sexual indoctrination, exposure to explicit sexual content, ensuring that parental consent remains paramount.”
The website further states “this movement is mainly focused on protection of children against LGBTQIA+ ideology in [the] school system and not to fight back against the LGBTQ community.”
'We stand with you'
Mayor Ken Sim described the rally in Vancouver, which was also expected to attract a large number of people opposed to the group’s message, as an “anti-trans protest.”
“Today, we are being confronted by ignorance and bigotry, and we must always call it out and stand with those who are impacted,” Sim said Wednesday. “We can never allow ourselves to let hate win the day. So to all 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, know this, we see you and we value you. You are important and we stand with you.”
ABC Coun. Rebecca Bligh, a member of the mayor’s party, posted a message via social media.
“As a member of the queer community and in the face of rising threats, hate and violence towards the 2SLGBTQ+ community, I stand in solidarity and allyship with queer and trans communities,” she wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“Vancouver is an inclusive city and we will not tolerate hate, bigotry and discrimination.”
The VPD report also included a chart that tracked victims of violence by gender, age and ethnicity over the past 12 months. The department used the data to develop what it described as an “odds ratio” to determine which people are likely to become victims of a crime.
“The odds ratios in the grand total column include 17 non-binary victims,” said the report, noting an odds ratio greater than 1.0 indicates the group is overrepresented as victims of violent crime; Indigenous, Black, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Hispanic victims in this category were all above 1.41, Indigenous the highest at 5.86.
Members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community targeted in hate crimes is not a new trend in Vancouver, but the increase in reports suggests there is either more reporting, or more people being targeted.
Data released by the VPD in 2019 under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act showed 43 suspected hate crimes concerning sexual orientation were reported to police between 2014 and 2017.
The incidents involved gay, lesbian, transgender, non-binary, intersex, agender, asexual and pansexual people or property. The majority were related to assaults and harassment.
'Freedom of speech'
Osmel Guerra Maynes, executive director of Qmunity, which describes itself as B.C.’s queer, trans and two-spirit resource centre, said at the time of the findings that he believed the rise in extremist views and the promotion of hate was at the root of the incidents.
“I love to say to folks, ‘It’s freedom of speech, it’s not freedom of hate speech,’” said Maynes, who identifies as an Afro Latino cisgender queer man. “This whole rhetoric world of hate is spreading.”
Statistics Canada released a report in March showing there were 423 hate crimes targeting a sexual orientation recorded in 2021. That was a significant increase over the previous peak of 265 in 2019.
Nearly eight in 10 of these crimes specifically targeted the gay and lesbian population, while the remainder targeted the bisexual population (two per cent) and people of another sexual orientation that is not heterosexual, such as asexual and pansexual people (11 per cent).
An additional 10 per cent were incidents where the targeted sexual orientation was reported as unknown, said the report, which noted victims targeted for sexual orientation (52 per cent) and sex or gender (40 per cent) were more likely to know the accused compared with victims of hate crimes targeting religion (34 per cent) and race or ethnicity (33 per cent).