Personal tools
You are here: Home English Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose Violence Against Nonheterosexuals

Violence Against Nonheterosexuals

Document Actions
  • Content View
  • Bookmarks
  • CourseFeed

Violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered (LGBT), sometimes called a subset of hate crimes, can occur either at the hands of individuals or groups, or as part of governmental enforcement of laws targeting people who are seen to violate heteronormative rules. People who are merely perceived to be LGBT (but who are actually not) may also be targeted. Derogatory words such as "Fag," and "Dyke" are also frequently used to victimize an LGBT.

Anti-LGBT violence can include threats, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, rape, torture, attempted murder, or murder. These actions may be caused by cultural, religious, or political mores and biases, though the extent to which these groups influence violence against LGBT individuals is an ongoing matter of debate.

Back to top


In the United States, the FBI reported that 15.6% of hate crimes reported to police in 2004 were based on perceived sexual orientation. 61% of these attacks were against gay men, 14% against lesbians, 2% against heterosexuals and 1% against bisexuals, while attacks against GLBT people at large made up 20%. Violence based on perceived gender identity was not recorded in the report.

Back to top

State-sponsored violence

Sexual relations between individuals of the same sex have frequently been repressed by the state under pain of mutilation and death. Such events (represented as buggery or sodomy ) took place in Europe from the fifth to the twentieth centuries, and in Muslim countries from the beginning of the Muslim era up to and including the present day. Among the states that have historically punished homosexuality with death are:

  • The Roman Empire starting under Constantine around 400.
  • Abbasid Baghdad under the Caliph Al-Hadi (785-786)
  • The City of Florence during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
    • Illustrative victims: Giovanni di Giovanni (1350 – 1365?), Florentine boy, castrated and "burned between the thighs with a red-hot iron" by court order;
  • The Swiss canton of Zú©£¨ in the Renaissance
    • Illustrative victims: Knight von Hohenberg d. 1482, Swiss knight, burned at the stake together with his lover, his young squire;
  • The kingdom of France during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
    • Illustrative victims: Jacques Chausson (1618 – 1661), French minor writer, burned alive for attempting to seduce the son of a nobleman;
  • England from the Middle Ages until 1861;
    • Illustrative victims: William Hamilton Maxwell, 1829; King Edward II
  • Nazi Germany; see History of homosexual people in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
  • Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban (1996-2001)

Present-day countries where homosexuality is still punishable by death:

  • Iran
  • Mauritania
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

Back to top

Individual violence

Individuals, singly or in groups, have at times taken it upon themselves (usually flouting the law) to repress those alleged to manifest variant sexual behavior. In some legal jurisdictions in the United States, these acts may be legally classified as hate crimes, which increases the resulting penalty if convicted.

Some notable incidents of hate-related assaults include:

  • Tennessee Williams was the victim of an assault in January 1979 in Key West, being beaten by five teenage boys, but he was not seriously injured. The episode was part of a spate of anti-gay violence inspired by an anti-gay newspaper ad run by a local Baptist minister.
  • The fatal stabbing of James Zappalorti, a gay Vietnam veteran (1945 – 1990)
  • The bombing of the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta, by Eric Robert Rudolph, the "Olympic Park Bomber," on February 21, 1997; five bar patrons were injured.
  • The beating death of Matthew Shepard, a gay student (1976 – 1998)
  • The murder of Pfc Barry Winchell on July 6, 1999. He was dating Calpernia Addams, a transgendered author.
  • The bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub by David Copeland in 1999
  • The fatal beating of gay teenager Jeff Whittington in Wellington, New Zealand on May 8, 1999.
  • One notorious incident of gay-bashing occurred on September 22, 2000. Ronald Gay entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia and opened fire on the patrons, killing Danny Overstreet and injuring six others. Ronald said he was angry over what his name now meant, and deeply upset that three of his sons had changed their surname. He claimed that he had been told by God to find and kill lesbians and gay men, describing himself as a "Christian Soldier working for my Lord."
  • The non-fatal stabbing of Bertrand Delanoë¬ a gay politician, Mayor of Paris, France, in 2002
  • Aaron Webster, a gay man in Vancouver, British Columbia, was beaten to death in Stanley Park in 2001.
  • On June 30, 2001, Hundreds of soccer hooligans attacked participants of the first Serbian Pride Parade in Belgrade.
  • On June 30, 2005, Yishai Shlisel, an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbed three marchers in a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, Israel, claiming he acted on behalf of God.
  • On February 2, 2006, 18 year-old Jacob D. Robida allegedly entered a bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts, confirmed that it was a gay bar, and then attacked patrons with a gun and a hatchet, wounding at least three.
  • On April 6, 2006, two American television producers, CBS Evening News senior producer Richard Jefferson and 48 Hours producer-researcher Ryan Smith, were beaten with a tire iron outside the Sunset Beach Bar on the Carribean island of St. Maarten by a group of four men and two women. The attack left Smith unable to speak properly, having suffered a skull fracture and brain damage.
  • On July 30, 2006, six men were brutally beaten after leaving the San Diego, California Gay Pride festival. One of the gay men was beaten so badly that he had to undergo extensive facial reconstructive surgery. The attackers were all adults, except for a 15-year-old and were charged with hate crimes.


Violence Against Nonheterosexuals

Back to top

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factcouraud. (2007, May 22). Violence Against Nonheterosexuals. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License