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LA sees hike in certain hate crimes

LA sees hike in certain hate crimes
President Barack Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 in the East Room of the White House in Washington on October 28, 2009. The bill included the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act which expands upon 1969 U.S. federal hate-crime law by extending its scope to protect crimes motivated by a victim's gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased 21 percent in Los Angeles County last year, the county's Human Relations Commission says.

A new report released by the commission says the rise in homophobic crimes occurred at the same time as the county experienced a drop of 4 percent overall in hate crimes from 763 in 2007 to 729 in 2008.

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The commission found the number of religion-based crimes increased 14 percent from 105 in 2007 to 120 in 2008.

Hate crimes based on sexual orientation went from 111 in 2007 to 134 in 2008.

The commission found the largest number of hate crimes were concentrated in the San Fernando Valley followed by the Los Angeles metro area.

Gang members were responsible for 22 percent of racial hate crimes and 80 percent of their crimes were overwhelmingly violent, the commission said.

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