Reporting a Hate Crime

If you are the victim of a hate crime, call 911 or your local police department. Once a police report has been filed, your local officials are required by law to report the incident to the Illinois State Police for investigation.
Then, if you need more help, assistance is available to hate crime victims.
In Chicago, the Chicago Police Department’s Civil Rights Unit will investigate after a report of a hate crime. In Chicago, dial 911 in an emergency or 311 in a non-emergency situation. The City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations then provides assistance to hate crime victims, including at the legal proceedings that may follow a hate crime report and identifying support services. Contact the commission at 312-744-4874, and learn more on the commission’s website.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office hotline for reporting discrimination and hate crime incidents is 773-674-HELP(4357) and is for anyone who feels they are being threatened or targeted as a result of their religion, race, nationality and/or sexual orientation.
Those who call the 24/7 hotline will receive a direct response to their incidents by Sheriff’s Office staff, who will help connect callers to other agencies, Sheriff’s detectives, or legal assistance if the matter would be best addressed by external resources.
The Center on Halsted LGBTQ Violence Resource Line was created in response to the growing need for victim assistance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive (LGBTQH) people. It is the only LGBTQ-specific program committed to addressing violence against and within LGBTQ communities in Illinois. It has become a cornerstone of recovery for many LGBTQH victims, witnesses, and friends of those who have experience bias/discrimination, or domestic, sexual, hate or police violence in the Chicago area. Contact the LGBTQ Violence Resource Line at 773.871.CARE (2273) or at violence-resource@centeronhalsted.org.

The Facts

Hate crimes occur when a crime victim is intentionally selected because of her or his identity.

FBI national hate crimes data from 2011 show that there were 6,222 total hate crime incidents reported that year. Of those, 20.8 percent were motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation. That number shows an increase from 2010 and 2009, which saw 19.1 percent and 17.7 percent respectively of hate crime victims targeted because of a bias against a particular sexual orientation.

In 2011, of the 1,572 victims targeted due to a sexual-orientation bias:

• 56.7 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-male homosexual bias.
• 29.6 percent were victims of an anti-homosexual bias.
• 11.1 percent were victims of an anti-female homosexual bias.
• 1.5 percent were victims of anti-bisexual bias.
• 1.2 percent were victims of an anti-heterosexual bias.

FBI statistics on gender-identity motivated crimes are unavailable at this time.

Read the latest FBI Report on Hate Crime Statistics nationally and in Illinois.

The Situation at the Federal Level

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act) was signed into law by President Obama on October 28, 2009. The law adds sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability to the categories included in existing federal hate crimes statute.

The Act strengthens existing federal hate crime laws in the following ways:

• It expands the law to authorize the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Before this law took effect, only race, color, religion or national origin were considered in hate crime determination.

• It eliminates a serious limitation on federal involvement under the previous law, which required that a victim of a bias-motivated crime was attacked because he/she was engaged in a specified federally-protected activity such as voting, serving on a jury, or attending school; and

• It adds “gender” and “gender identity” to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

The Situation in Illinois

Sexual Orientation

The Illinois Hate Crimes Act explicitly includes actual or perceived sexual orientation as a protected class.
Gender Identity
According to The Illinois Department of Human Rights, state law explicitly protects actual or perceived gender identity under the current hate crimes law by including it as a provision of sexual orientation.
An update:
House Bill 3930 was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on July 20, 2015 and takes effect on January 1, 2016. When it takes effect, the enhanced Illinois Hate Crimes Act will have the first specific inclusion of transgender people. It will specifically name gender identity as a protected category.
The new law will also extend hate crimes protections to community centers that may be targeted for institutional vandalism because of sexual orientation or gender identity status.
In Illinois, the FBI hate crimes data collected from local agencies show that there were 69 hate crimes reported in 2011, of which 17, or 24.6 percent, were motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.

View the most recent breakdown of Illinois hate crime incidents by location.