Despite seemingly growing acceptance of gays and lesbians, the FBI has reported that hate crimes based on sexual orientation are on the rise in the US.

The 2011 Hate Crimes statistics released on Monday by the FBI revealed that, for the first time, crimes directed against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation are the second most frequent hate crime committed after crimes based on race.

Surpassing crimes committed on the basis on religion, the number of reported hate crimes committed against gay men and lesbians increased from 1,277 in 2010 to 1,293 in 2011.

“The 2011 FBI hate crimes data is a sad reminder that even as we make great strides toward equality under the law, LGBT people in face dangers in America,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “We must rid our country of the violence that has devastated our community for far too long.”

The increase in the attacks comes despite a decrease in the number of local law enforcement agencies submitting hate crime statistics, which are reported on a voluntary basis to the FBI.

Crimes reported involve those motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, and disability. Currently, the FBI does not collect data on hate crimes committed on the basis of gender identity. 

As from 2013, however, the FBI will begin collecting this data and will report these statistics beginning in 2014.

“We commend the FBI for recognising the needs of transgender Americans, who face violence at alarming and disproportionate rates,” said Griffin, adding, “Hate crime data will help law enforcement agencies better understand how to serve and protect the LGBT community.”

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