The Price of Hate: Violence Against LGBT People Around the World

Matthew Shepherd
Matthew Shepherd

On October 7, 1998, a young man named Matthew Shepherd met two men in a Laramie, Wyoming bar. They offered him a ride in their truck and he accepted. Instead, they robbed, beat, and tortured Matthew and left him tied to a fence in below freezing temperatures to die.

The reason for this brutal murder? Matthew Shepherd was gay.

Although Matthew Shepherd is one of the best known LGBT victims of a hate crime, he is far from alone. Around the world, LGBT individuals are subjected to one of the highest rates of violent hate crimes of any minority group. According to the FBI's Hate Crime statistics, about 15-20% of reported hate crimes in recent years have been directed against LGBT people.

The Laramie Project Trailer

Brandon Teena
Brandon Teena

Another of the best known American victims of LGBT hate crimes was Brandon Teena (also known as Teena Brandon), a trans man who was raped by two men after they found out he was biologically female. Brandon reported the rape, but was subjected to humiliating treatment by the police and returned home, where he and two friends were murdered by the rapists just two days later.

Brandon's story became the subject of an award winning documentary, The Brandon Teena Story, and an Oscar winning film, Boys Don't Cry.

Suicide Among LGBT Teens

Not all violence against LGBT individuals ends in murder. Suicide rates among LGBT teens and young adults are two to three times higher than rates among heterosexual youth, in part because of the high rates of bullying LGBT teens experience. Among teens who experience rejection from their families, the rates are higher still.

In one of the saddest recent cases, an 11 year old boy who had been subjected to months of bullying at school despite repeated protests by his mother, hung himself in his home. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover did not even identify as LGBT, but he was bullied mercilessly at school for acting "gay."

A knight and squire being burned at the stake for sodomy, c. late 15th century
A knight and squire being burned at the stake for sodomy, c. late 15th century

History of LGBT Hate Crimes

Sadly, the current level of hate crimes against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals actually represents an improvement over the situation throughout most of history.

Although some ancient and modern societies were and are accepting of homosexuality, and even, in the case of the Classical Greeks, viewed it as preferable to heterosexuality in some regards, others were not. The Bible prescribes a punishment of death for those who commit homosexual acts or wear the clothing of the opposite sex. This punishment has actually been carried out in many Western societies, and laws punishing homosexual acts with death remain on the books in a number of modern Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and the Sudan.

Other societies have tortured, beaten, or imprisoned homosexuals, even wealthy and respected ones such as the well-known author Oscar Wilde, who was sentenced to two years' hard labor for sodomy in 1895. Today, lesbian women in South Africa are commonly subjected to "corrective rape" - gang-rape intended to "cure" them of their lesbianism.

One of the most dramatic reversals of LGBT rights occurred in Iraq over the last decade.

Surprisingly, homosexuality was legal in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, though subject to harassment and threats of violence similar to those experienced in many other similarly "enlightened" countries, but since the American invasion of the country the situation has deteriorated dramatically, with gays being actively sought by (primarily) Shiite militia for beatings, torture, and murder. Among the reports that have emerged from the country is the use of "anal glue torture" to murder gays. Militias use a powerful glue to shut off the anuses of gay men, then force feed them a drink that will cause diarrhea and leave them to die in agony as their stomach and intestines slowly burst.

What You Can Do

If you agree that LGBT people should be able to live openly and without fear for their lives, here are some things you can do:

  • Educate yourself about gender and sexuality issues. My two hubs, What Is Your Gender Identity? and What is Your Sexuality?, were written as introductions to the topic of gender and sexuality, and make a good starting point.
  • Watch your tongue. Avoid using insults and derogatory terms based on gender and sexual identity, especially in the presence of children. These include words such as "faggot," "fag," "dyke," "sissy," and the use of "gay" as an insult, as in "that's so gay." Other hateful language to avoid: describing homosexuality as "deviant," "unnatural," or "sinful," conflating homosexuality with pedophilia, child abuse, bestiality, or incest, and joking about gay bashing, AIDS, and similar.
  • Speak out. When you hear hateful speech, tell the speaker you're uncomfortable with that kind of language. When you witness hateful actions, report them.

If You Are Witness or Victim of a Hate Crime

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911 to report the incident to the police.

Otherwise, report hate crimes to the following organization:

GLBT National Help Center: 1-888-843-4564

This was written for the HubMob challenge: LGBT Issues.

Come join the fun!

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Comments 31 comments

Eaglekiwi profile image

Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

This is the saddest story I have read in a long time.No matter how strongly I believe in my values ,I could never in my heart of hearts condone words ,attitudes or actions that would be the least bit hostile or judgemental. To be honest I dont think its even homophobic,these crimes can only be the result of hate,and evil. Thankyou for sharing ,it is a story that needs to be in everyones face.!


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

So much of it comes down to treating others as you would be treated. Showing respect to other people. They might not act like you or make you feel comfortable, but it is no way a reason to act so demonic toward them.


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 7 years ago from Tennessee

This is a really good hubmob on such a cruel human behavior! I recognized a few of the tragedies, but a lot of this is actually new to me. :/

I agree that LGBT people should be allowed to live openly. There should be no fear for being who they are.


Trips profile image

Trips 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

I remember Matt's story well, especially because I had friends who were close with his family. Such a tragedy fueled by not only by ignorance and intolerance. One wonders how someone could say, "I'm a christian; I believe the Bible tells us not to be gay," etc., and is able to torture (even with only words) another human being. Talk about hypocrysy in it's most evil form. Mind-bogling to me. Thanks for sharing this with us. It's very well done.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

This is amazing, sadly amazing! It is almost imposible to believe that a human being could torture and kill in such atrocious ways another human being. That is nothing to do with sexual orientation it is just hatred and violence.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Great hub but tough info to absorb. Our cruelty towards each other never ceases to shock and amaze me. Thanks for sharing this - we need to have it held up to the light, for such things spread and grow when we allow them to remain in the dark and do not speak out.


shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago

Did you ever see Prayers for Bobby on Lifetime? It was a famous suicide case. Sometimes, it is not even outsiders that make life difficult but people from your own family.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Hi kerry, thanks for writing this. These crimes make my toes curl, it's really beyond my comprehension how ignorance and fear can have such horrendous effects, and how they have a place in our world. I was witness to a hate crime against a gay man, and a rather active party in stopping it (plus I received hate mail for writing about it!!). I just can't understand how this type of hate an violence breed in people. As I said, thanks for writing this.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

They can't kill the spirit.....you have proven that by writing this hub. A wonderful job! So well done!


RooBee profile image

RooBee 7 years ago from Here

Thanks for writing this. I remember Matthew and Brandon's stories so clearly and they still haunt me deeply. And these, as you point out, are just a couple of the many stories of violence and hatred against others simply because of their sexual orientation.

One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, we'll look back with disbelief at the way these people were treated by society. Just like we have done with every single minority group known to man. I can' t believe more people don't see this for what it is. I guess our culture has to drag each group through the ringer before slowly, reluctantly allowing the survivors a lurching progression toward mass acceptance.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for writing this great, sad Hub. You have highlighted an issue that is very close to my heart.

The South African constitution guarantees that there should be no discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, colour, creed or sexual orientation. But what the constitution guarantees and what people believe and practice is of course not necessarily the same. I know that crimes against gays and lesbians continue herre, to our shame.

My own brother-in-law was murdered in a gay bashing episode nearly 20 years ago and, as is so often the case in these instances, the police have done nothing to solve the case.

Deaths like these are so unnecessary, so hurtful. When people justify them on religious grounds it is even worse.

Everytime someone speaks out against these dreadful crimes it strikes a spark of humanity somewhere, opens someone's eyes, lights another candle to dispel the darkness. Thanks for doing so in this way.

Love and peace

Tony


kerryg profile image

kerryg 7 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for so many beautiful comments, folks. It certainly fills me with hope to read these!

Tony, I am so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. I have LGBT relatives and friends as well and whenever I read about these sorts of stories I feel a jolt of fear for them. It's inexcusable that society so often turns a blind eye to these hateful, hateful crimes.


dlmjr profile image

dlmjr 7 years ago

I am a gay man, my partner and I have been together for almost 13 years now and we did fostering and have adopted two boys. We were very lucky the only person who had a problem was the judge in our county. He held up the adoption for 4 months. I wanted to say that this is an important issue though. People say it's a choice, but it's not you are who you are. Thanks for doing this article.

don


dlmjr profile image

dlmjr 7 years ago

I am a gay man, my partner and I have been together for almost 13 years now and we did fostering and have adopted two boys. We were very lucky the only person who had a problem was the judge in our county. He held up the adoption for 4 months. I wanted to say that this is an important issue though. People say it's a choice, but it's not you are who you are. Thanks for doing this article.

don


Whikat 7 years ago

I remember Matt's story. I watched the T.V Movie they made about it. The story brings me to tears now, as it did then. What a shame that beautiful people like these,who took the courage to just be themselves had to face the most horrifying acts of cruelity to mankind.


Kebennett1 profile image

Kebennett1 7 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

I am 100% against hate crimes of any type. They make me sick. There is no reason to hate a person due to race, gender. sexual preference, religion, etc... A person should only be judged on what is in their heart, how they treat other people. I am a Christian and this probably makes me unpopular with some Christians, but I truly do believe you love all people, you do not have to agree with all peoples practices or beliefs to do this. My cousin is gay and I certainly do not like the way some people treat him, including family members, and the church he used to attend.  He is a loving, gentle, giving person and deserves the same respect and love a heterosexual who has these qualities would get.


fireball34 profile image

fireball34 7 years ago

Great Hub! I just wrote a hub on the lastest hate crime vicitm in Michigan called I'm Mad at Michigan! In the State of Michigan there is not Hate Crime for people who attack gays!


nightskater 7 years ago

I wish that wouldn't happen. It makes me sad...Just because someone is different doesn't mean people should do stuff like this. It makes me sick to my stomach. I knew of someone who was gay. He was a nice guy and part of my family. I loved him though. He was so nice to me...Would have given the shirt off his back...but I guess some people will do anything. Well, good hub. I may believe in God's word, but I will always treat everyone the same no matter what race they are, religion, orientation, you name it. I just will not endorse it...Thanks for sharing.


sammie_sidesaddle 6 years ago

I despair, I have read about the people named in your hub before and heard many other stories that I would not, and could not, publish. The problem is that it is always men who have the fear of damnation in there hearts about their own sexuality that have the biggest issues. It is very rare for an out right homosexual or straight person to be involved in a gay bashing. It is always the ones in between. With time and more and more acceptance of gay culture in our society, we will make it o.k. for these people to discover who they are, with out all the anger and pent up aggression. My god sweetie, what a hub. Good work and good form, I would bet on you anytime. XO Sammie


topshelf profile image

topshelf 6 years ago from South Florida

Good hub and I've seen this movie and prayers for bobby on lifetime. It's so sad how people act when it comes to this subject. It's like they get scared and become mad men! The Bible teaches us to love all, and that's what we need to do. People that harrasse gay people don't do it for God because that's not what He's about. Love your neighbors like you love yourself.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

A very moving account - and I was very moved.


ZackW.Van profile image

ZackW.Van 6 years ago from Wisconsin Area

Great Hub! I love to see that people are really stepping forward to adress These issues. Even if you do not agree with the LGBT lifestyle, Killing teenagers for it is the lowest of the low. A reason why I hope we can get these people to rot in jail.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Excellent Hub. God Bless.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

Steller. Impressive and brave. Moving. Thank you for adding this information to the hubpages group. The story is needed and appreciated. keep puttingthe words to the page my dear.


lxxy profile image

lxxy 6 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

I've seen both the movies here--it's deplorable what happened to them. Although I must say after seeing "TransAmerica" and "But I'm a Cheerleader" society has made some progress towards understanding others feelings and romance preferences.


Just Gloria 6 years ago

My only comment is this: NO MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE ANOTHER!!!!! I am so sick of people hating and hurting others because they consider them to be different just because they live a different lifestyle. PATIENCE, ACCEPTANCE AND RESPECT is to be shared and HATE is to be put aside. Great story. Hopefully as time passes, people will learn to accept one another.


Agnes 6 years ago

Not a single one of these comments got it right. When Christ the King of Glory comes again, do they believe He will say to them;"Well done, good and faithful servant"? and He said to His apostles, "When the son of man (Himself) returns, do you think He will find faith upon the earth? We who have the Truth need to gently share it and those who are miserable need to gently receive it.


livexlovexlaugh profile image

livexlovexlaugh 6 years ago from Springfield, MO

The information in this Hub is depressing. Truly depressing. I cannot fathom why human beings are as cruel to one another as they are today. LGBTs should live in society and not have to be tortured by it. But I think that if Christians hated them so much (THIS COMMENT IS NOT MEANT TO OFFEND), then why would their God create such unique individuals? I love the LGBT community as I am a part of it with being bisexual. Now, I have no problem with other religions and practices, but I believe that they should be more tolerate and get to know this side of the world. Granted, they don't have to like it. Just tolerate.

Again, amazing post and thank you for the life changing stories.


Briana Faye profile image

Briana Faye 5 years ago from California

Fantastic Hub. This is such an important issue! It is disgusting how intolerant this world still is. Thank you for your wonderfully written article.


Alice-Stone profile image

Alice-Stone 5 years ago

It is a tragedy what happens to people that do not identify or fit the part of heterosexual norms within society. Some people do not realize how persistent labels, stereotypes, hate, discrimination and overall intolerance affect people of all ages. Your article is truly informative and I especially love that you give information on support because there are many people out there that need to be reminded that they are not alone.


gay4greek profile image

gay4greek 5 years ago from New York

"Watch your tongue." is the most powerful suggestion for everybody, not only for the people who do the bullying, but for LGBT's, too. It doesn't say "Shut your mouth" it merely suggests to be careful. I am an open gay guy but I see to it that I become responsible for any of my actions. Being around heterosexuals and being around gay friends or family is very very different. Maybe, we can avoid being 'too flamboyant' when not in our comfort zones. Please don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting for us gay people to wear a mask and become hetero whilst being with straights.

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