Increases in anti-gay, religious-motivated crimes reported - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Increases in anti-gay, religious-motivated crimes reported

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI is blaming sharp increases in hate crimes involving gays and religious groups for an overall rise of about 2 percent in hate crimes last year.

Data released today indicate that hate crimes based on sexual orientation rose nearly 11 percent, while religion-based crimes were up nearly 9 percent. However, the federal figures showed that racially motivated hate crimes fell less than 1 percent.

Overall, roughly a third of all hate crimes involved vandalism or property damage, while 30 percent involved some form of intimidation and another 30 percent physical attacks on individuals, including seven murders.

Officials say the increase in numbers may also be linked to the growing number of agencies tracking hate crimes. Today's release comes less than a month after President Barack Obama signed a bill expanding the number of categories of those covered by the federal law against hate crimes.

The law now covers crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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