GLAAD Media Resource: Sexual Orientation and Hate Crime Legislation

A few opponents of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 — known as the Matthew Shepard Act in the U.S. Senate — have been making inaccurate claims about the scope of the protections enumerated in the legislation. The legislation expands existing federal hate crimes law (which currently covers actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, national origin and religion) to include violent crimes based on the victim’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and/or disability. Opponents of this legislation have begun claiming that sexual orientation also includes items that are classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as “paraphilias.” This is false; the two are not synonymous, and paraphilias are not covered by this legislation. This false claim, promulgated largely on far-right Web sites, is the latest in a long history of attempts by anti-gay activists to advance a myth that being gay is a psychiatric disorder and that gay people are a danger to society. GLAAD strongly urges media to avoid allowing their outlets to be used to disseminate this false claim. For additional information on the DSM, contact:
Dr. Jack Drescher, M.D.
Consultant, Committee on Public Affairs Past Chair, Committee on GLB Issues American Psychiatric Association
(212) 645-2232