LOCAL NEWS

Spike in hate crimes targets Utah’s LGBTQ community

May 31, 2022, 7:37 PM | Updated: Jun 1, 2022, 10:59 am

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — The number of hate crimes in Utah is way up and nearly double when you look at those reported against people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Those crimes also went up during Pride month, which is just getting underway. More crimes are being reported now thanks, in part, to hate crimes legislation passed in 2019.

There are also more people feeling confident in reporting those crimes. Those in the LGBTQ+ community said a lot more needs to be done to help people feel safer. It may be the most commonly reported crime against the LGBTQ+ community.

“We’ve been flying pride flags since 2018 when one of our kids came out to us,” Marion McClellan said.

She now has two kids who identify as queer. They have had several flags stolen.

Surveillance cameras captured some of the thefts.

Payson police are still asking for the public’s help to find the vandals. McClellan said she won’t stop putting the flags back outside her home.

“The main reason is we have so many LGBT kids in our area. It makes a huge difference that they feel seen and there’s a place that’s safe,” she said

Genevra Prothero has been through it too.

“I’ve had the transgender flag taken twice,” she said.

She puts them up outside her home to support a brother and close friends. They are just some of the many concerned by the recent increase in crimes against people in the queer community.

According to statistics from Utah’s Department of Public Safety, there were 72 hate crimes reported in 2020. Out of those, 22 were against LGBTQ+ people. In 2021 the total was up to 135, 42 of those incidents against LGBTQ people.

“It hurts my heart because this is basically saying that if you are this way, I hate you,” Prothero said. “So to me, how could you do that?”

Prothero also serves as director of Davis Pride. She said to see a meaningful change people need to be willing to listen.

“Come to Davis County Pride. Go to Utah Pride and see how much love there is and see if you still hate those people because you can’t,” she said.

McClellan said we can’t be okay with the way things are.

“It’s unacceptable. It’s anti-anything that our community claims to believe or hold or cherish,” she added.

Flag theft is just the start when it comes to crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. The crimes also include threats, vandalism, as well as physical and sexual assault.

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Spike in hate crimes targets Utah’s LGBTQ community