A new report shows a record jump in hate crimes against the LGBTQ, Muslim and Jewish communities, prompting calls for more support for victims of the abuse.
The analysis based on police reports also showed around half of Canadians committing hate crimes had been accused of other crimes before and after those incidents.
The Statistics Canada hate crimes report notes that in 2021 there was a 64-per-cent rise in crimes against members of the LGBTQ community and a 67-per-cent increase in incidents linked to a person’s religion.
A further analysis of these police cases from 2018 to 2021 showed investigators found that two-thirds of the victims were boys and men, most of whom didn’t know the suspect – unlike victims of other crimes.
Almost half of the hate crimes cases were “violent,” including assault, harassment and uttering threats.
The number of hate crimes reported by the police, including military police, rose by 27 per cent to 3,360 in 2021 from 2,646 incidents in 2020.
Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and chair of the RCMP’s hate crimes task force, said the numbers are “an underrepresentation of the actual problem of hate in Canada.”
“Most people do not report hate crimes to the police mainly because they don’t have faith that anything will come of it,” he said, adding the statistics for 2022 are likely to show an even greater increase.
The Statscan report says: “Police data on hate crimes reflect only the incidents that come to the attention of police, and are classified as hate crimes.”
Just over one in five of the incidents resulted in “the laying or recommendation of charges,” the Police-Reported Hate Crime report said.
The analysis delved into who was committing the crimes and found that a cohort of almost 3,000 people are committing repeated offences. Between 2012 and 2018, 2,872 people were accused of at least one hate crime.
Just under half of them had been accused of an incident reported to the police – which may not relate to hate crimes. Fifty-four per cent came into contact with police again within three years after their “initial hate crime violation.”
The Statscan findings, published Wednesday, said after three consecutive years of decline, there was a 67-per-cent increase in reports of hate crimes based on religion.
That included a 71-per-cent jump from 2020 of hate crimes targeting Muslims, a 47-per-cent increase in hate crimes targeting Jews and a 260-per-cent surge in attacks on Catholics.
There were 423 hate crimes reported because of sexual orientation, up from the previous peak in 2019 of 265.
Tyler Boyce, executive director of the Enchante network, which represents 300 LGBTQ organizations, said the statistics were an understatement of the amount of abuse gay and lesbian people experience, and more support was needed. He expressed concern that Statscan does not track abuse directed at transgender people.
Mr. Boyce blamed the far right for fuelling a record number of attacks on members of the LGBTQ community. Many victims don’t go to the police, he said, because of “distrust” of authority. Instead they seek out community groups for support afterwards instead.
“We are seeing a rise in online hate and people are feeling emboldened to take this from an online space to in-person,” Mr. Boyce said. “A friend of mine was brutally attacked on the way back from the beach during Pride Week in Toronto. He was attacked by a man shouting really awful homophobic slurs and he ended up in the hospital.”
Ontario had just over half of all hate crimes directed at people on the basis of sexual orientation.
Unlike other crimes, a large proportion of violent hate attacks were committed by strangers. In 3 per cent of cases, victims were killed or very badly injured. Three-quarters of victims were not injured, while 21 per cent suffered minor physical injuries. Violent hate crimes were more likely to lead to charges by the police.
Based on population, members of the Jewish community were the most targeted religious group with 145 incidents per 100,000 people, followed by Muslims who experienced eight hate crime incidents per 100,000. Catholics experienced one incident per 100,000 people in 2021.
Nicole Amiel, of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said Canadian Jews were more than 10 times more likely than other religious minorities to report being the target of a hate crime.
Fatema Abdalla, of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said many hate crimes directed at Muslims were not reported to the police, but the council has seen a rise in people calling them for support after being attacked or abused in public.
Earlier this month, a woman sitting on the Toronto subway, who was wearing a headscarf, was approached by a man who asked her about her religion, and then pulled a knife. The woman managed to run away, Ms. Abdalla said, and police said she was targeted because of her Muslim faith.
The Statscan report found that a 6-per-cent rise in hate crimes based on race was mainly because of crimes directed at Arab, West Asian and East and Southeast Asian populations. There was a 5-per-cent drop in hate crimes targeting the Black population after a 96-per-cent increase in 2020.