Too many sexual orientation hate crimes go unreported, group believes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The number of reported hate crimes fell in Missouri in 2012 according to a new report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

But one group feels the number would be higher, if they didn't go unreported by the victims.

The Kansas City Anti-Violence Project serves victims of violence and hate crimes in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transsexual community. According to the MSHP report, Jackson County had 64 total hate crimes reported in 2012. That's more than half of the statewide total of 106.

Justin Shaw, executive director of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project believes the 'real' hate crime numbers in the LGBT community would make the Jackson County number even higher.

"We know there's a lot that's reported to us that is not reported to police." added Shaw.

Shaw says in 2012 the anti-violence project helped 26 people, but only a couple reported their crimes. He says some just aren't ready to press charges.

"It's always traumatizing being a victim of any kind of crime, so that adds just another layer on top of it when its an LGBT specific crime," explained Shaw.

That's where the project steps in. Filing paper work, setting up therapy or anything else the victim needs. Shaw hopes more people get the courage to come forward. As a gay man, he sees Kansas City as a welcoming community and much safer than other areas of the state.

"The fact that we have the most (reported crimes), doesn't scare me and say, 'Oh my gosh, my friends and I just need to stay in our houses because we're going have a hate crime done against us,'" said Shaw.

But Shaw says there is still work to be done, homophobia is an issue, just like racism and prejudice against religion. He's hopeful seeing the reported numbers fall in 2012 will be a trend that continues in the 2013 report.

LINK TO THE REPORT:

http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/SAC/pdf/Missouri%20Hate%20Crime%20Report%202012.pdf

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