The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released their 2019 Year in Hate and Extremism report, which tracks U.S.-based hate groups. While there was a slight decline in overall groups last year, there was an increase in anti-LGBTQ groups.
In 2019, SPLC documented 940 hate groups in the U.S. This is a dip of 8 percent from 2018, when 1,020 groups were documented. However, LGBTQ hate groups increased by 43 percent from 49 groups in 2018 to 70 in 2019—making it the fastest-growing sector among hate groups last year.
The report states that the increase was “possibly fueled by continued anti-LGBTQ sentiment and policy emanating from government officials,” including President Donald Trump himself.
“Anti-LGBTQ groups have become intertwined with the Trump administration, and—after years of civil rights progress and growing acceptance among the broader American public—anti-LGBTQ sentiment within the Republican Party is rising,” SPLC wrote. “Though Trump promised during his campaign to be a ‘real friend’ to the LGBTQ community, he has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their agenda of dismantling federal protections and resources for LGBTQ people.”
In response to the report, a spokesperson for the White House called SPLC a “far-left smear organization” and claimed President Trump has “fought for inclusion and repeatedly condemned hate and violence.”
“While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies, and ambassadorships,” spokesperson Judd Deere told NBC News. “He launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality…and the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within ten years.”
Nationwide, Georgia tied with Tennessee for producing the fifth-most hate groups with 38, following California (88), Florida (67), Texas (63), and New York (44). Of the 38 Georgian groups, two were anti-LGBTQ: American Vision in Powder Springs and Strong Hold Baptist Church in Norcross.
Anti-LGBTQ groups weren’t the only ones to increase nationwide last year; there was also a 55 percent increase in white nationalist groups since 2017 and a 17 percent increase in anti-immigrant hate groups.