Study: Hate crimes targeting LGBT community on the rise

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COLUMBIA — Multiple studies report LGBT people are the most targeted minority group in hate crimes in the U.S. 

In 2005, LGBT people were the second-most victimized minority group in the U.S., after members of the Jewish community. In 2014, members of the LGBT community surpassed Jewish peoples as the most victimized. Muslims and blacks follow Jews on the list.

Samuel Voss, a member of the LGBT community, moved to Columbia from Iowa last year. Voss said that despite the data, he feels safe in the "close-knit" community.

"I was never big into the community back home," Voss said.

Voss said he found his niche in Columbia when he decided to lend a hand at the Ying Yang Night Club. 

The FBI reports roughly 19 percent of hate crime victims are targeted because of bias against sexual orientation. 

"We sit here in 2016, and people need to start making some changes, really just let people express who they are," Voss said.

The Hate Crime Statistics Act defines hate crimes as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." 

The Human Rights Campaign reports "religious fundamentalism is the strongest predictor of negative implicit evaluations of homosexual relative to heterosexual individuals." 

Voss said the events in Orlando President Obama described as "hate" and terrorism" hit close to home. 

"I think we will see an increased amount of this going on," Voss said. "Orlando obviously was the biggest eye opener for everybody, and I think we are going to continue to see it, and it's going to be unfortunate."

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