Skip to main content

People erect a memorial for Raymond Taavel, a former chairman of Gay Pride week and editor of Wayves magazine who was killed in Halifax in 2012.Sandor Fizli/The Globe and Mail

Most racial or religious hate crimes in Canada involve only mischief, but violence occurs in two-thirds of the incidents in which sexual orientation is the key factor, new data released Thursday suggest.

Police reported 1,414 hate-motivated criminal incidents in 2012, up 82 from the previous year, Statistics Canada said in its latest report on hate crimes.

The agency defines hate crimes as those that are found by police investigations to be motivated by hatred against an identifiable group.

Over all, almost 70 per cent of hate crimes reported by police were non-violent, with mischief – incidents such as vandalism, graffiti and other destruction of property – as the most common offence.

However, two-thirds of hate crimes involving sexual orientation involved violence, as did a third of those involving racial or ethnic hatred, Statistics Canada reported.

Violence occurred in only 13 per cent of religiously motivated hate incidents.

The agency said just over 50 per cent of all hate crimes in 2012 involved racial or ethnic motives, while 30 per cent involved hatred towards a particular religion, including crimes targeting Jews, Muslims and Catholics.

An additional 13 per cent of incidents were motivated by sexual orientation, while the remaining 6 per cent were motivated by language, mental or physical disability, sex, age or some other characteristic, such as occupation or political belief.

Blacks were most likely to be victims of racially motivated hatred, with 21 per cent of all incidents aimed at them. But Jewish populations were the most common target of religious hatred, comprising 17 per cent of incidents.

The 2012 statistics suggest that hate crimes tend to be committed by young men.

Among persons accused of hate crimes, 57 per cent were under the age of 25 and this group was accused of two-thirds of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation.

Victims, too, tended to be young, with 40 per cent of them under the age of 25. More than half of the victims of sexual orientation hate crimes were under 25.

More than 80 per cent of hate crimes occurred in major cities.

Police agencies says rates of reported hate crime can vary from place to place because of differences or changes in the awareness, reporting and investigation of such incidents by

Interact with The Globe