Hate crimes against gays increase

The number of reported hate crimes against homosexuals in Sweden soared 117 percent from 2003 to 2004, Swedish intelligence service Säpo revealed in a report published on Tuesday.

Säpo’s crime report for 2004 disclosed that 614 hate crimes against homosexuals were reported to police last year, up from 326 such crimes reported a year earlier in Sweden.

Most of the crimes against gays consisted of verbal abuse and threats, closely followed by physical abuse, although only seven of the cases involved aggravated assault.

The report comes on the day that Sweden’s Supreme Court cleared a Pentecostal minister of hate crimes after he described gays as being “like a cancer”.

While the sharp jump in the number of cases can to a large extent be explained by a change in Säpo’s methodology last year and by the fact that gays increasingly appear willing to report hate crimes, the agency said there also seemed to be an actual hike in the number of crimes committed.

Statistics show crimes against homosexuals steadily rising since 2000.

“The increase of reports (of hate crimes against homosexuals) is far greater than the number of reported (crimes) with xenophobic or anti-Semitic motives,” the report stated.

Hate crimes motivated by anti-Semitism rose 44 percent last year to 151 reported incidents, while xenophobic crimes jumped 27 percent to 2,263 cases, according to the report, which emphasized that its methodology change, including computerizing all of its statistics, largely explained the increases.

According to preliminary figures comparing the period January-September 2004 to the same period in 2005, “the increase is moderate when it comes to homophobic crimes, weak when it comes to xenophobic crimes and clearly down when it comes to anti-Semitic crimes,” Säpo said.

While the report does not specifically look at hate crimes against Muslims, a poll published last week by Swedish public radio revealed that four out of 10 Muslim congregations in the country had at some point received threats or been subjected to physical attacks.

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