- ‘We have a crisis of hate and extremism in our country.’
Last year saw a sharp increase in the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in the US.
That’s according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which leads on identifying hate groups and calling them out.
Their official list of anti-LGBT+ groups went up from 49 in 2018 to 70 last year – nearly a 43% spike.
Meanwhile they say US President Donald Trump has emboldened the white nationalist movement. And they say the politics of hate is targeting migrants and Muslims alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.
The SPLC’s new report says the white nationalist movement grew for the second straight year in 2019. They now list 155 white nationalist hate groups, a 55% increase since 2017.
Overall their Year in Hate and Extremism report says there are now 940 hate groups across the US. That’s slightly down on the all-time high of 1,020 in 2018.
However, more than half the decline was due to a drop in the number of neo-Nazi groups. That decline is not due to less hate, but because two main factions in the neo-Nazi movement collapsed amid leadership turmoil.
Lecia Brooks, spokesperson for SPLC, said: ‘Make no mistake: We have a crisis of hate and extremism in our country – and the toxic ideas propagated by these hate groups not only lead to violence but erode the very foundations of our democracy.’
‘A real danger to LGBTQ people’
In their press release about hate groups, the SPLC single out the growth in anti-LGBTQ groups as a particular concern.
The statement says:
‘As the country continues to experience white nationalist terror, extremist ideas long believed outside of the realm of legitimate politics are penetrating deeply into the mainstream, spawning public policies that target immigrants, Muslims and the LGBTQ community.
‘The Trump administration has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ leaders and their agendas, enacting numerous policies targeting the rights of LGBTQ people.
‘President Trump, once again, lent the legitimacy of the White House to hate groups like the Family Research Council when he spoke at its annual Values Voter Summit last October.’
Shannon Minter is legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She says:
‘This important new report shines a light on the explosion of anti-LGBTQ groups across our country.
‘The resurgence of these groups poses a real danger to LGBTQ people and to the progress we have made, which feels increasingly precarious in the face of this administration’s shocking support for anti-LGBTQ hate groups and apparent determination to roll back even the most basic legal protections for LGBTQ people.
‘Now more than ever, we must push back against these hateful narratives and call on elected officials and others to stand up for our common humanity.’
The ‘homosexual agenda’ conspiracy theory
Christian right groups dominate anti-LGBT+ groups on the SPLC list. However the list also includes organizations that use pseudo-science to back their claims, including the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
Many of the groups falsely link being LGBT+ to pedophilia. They claim marriage equality and LGBTQ people in general, are dangers to children and that being LGBTQ itself is dangerous.
Moreover, they support the criminalization of LGBTQ people and transgender identity. They often claim LGBT+ people have conspired to create a ‘homosexual agenda’ that seeks to destroy Christianity and the whole of society.
The SPLC only lists extremists. It does not include groups that merely believe that being LGBT+ is unbiblical or simply oppose marriage equality.
You can see the list here.
Migrants and Muslims are also targets
The SPLC only registered a small increase in anti-immigrant hate groups. They went up from 17 in 2018 to 20 groups in 2019. However, the organization warns anti-immigrant groups are particularly effective in getting their harsh policies put into action by government.
Meanwhile the number of anti-Muslim hate groups fell from 100 in 2018 to 84 in 2019. However, the SPLC report says we are in a ‘dangerous, new era of anti-Muslim hate’.