The tragedy that's still unfolding in Orlando seems unfathomable: 50 dead, 53 injured and LGBTQ communities across the country left in mourning.
Except that anti-LGBT homicides have been happening in record numbers in recent years. In fact, they increased 20% between 2014 to 2015, according to a study on hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities released on Tuesday.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a network of more than 30 organizations spread across dozens of states, released its annual report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected hate violence. When it comes to hate violence, identity has everything to do with who's targeted and to what extent, according to the report. People of color are two times more likely to experience physical forms of hate violence than their white counterparts.
That's certainly been the case in Orlando, where a majority of the victims have been identified as Latino and black. The suspected gunman, a Florida-based 29-year-old man named Omar Mateen with ties to ISIS, was reportedly enraged by the sight of two men kissing one week before the massacre. His father, Seddique Mir Mateen, wrote on his Facebook page Monday that, "God will punish those involved in homosexuality," and that his son should not have taken that punishment into his own hands.
"That this shooting happened in an LGBTQ space, where LGBTQ people go to feel safe and celebrate their lives, makes this tragedy that much more heartbreaking," Emily Waters, NCAVP Research and Education Coordinator and one of the authors of the report, said in an email. "We must understand this event as a consequence of the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that permeates our everyday environments, such as workplaces, schools, and homes that we all have the responsibility to challenge."