One in five reported hate crimes in the United States last year were directed at gays and lesbians, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation released Monday.
Law enforcement agencies reported 6,222 hate crimes, down slightly from 6,628 in 2010.
There were 7,713 victims and 5,733 offenders, according to the federal law enforcement agency, which maintains the national Uniform Crime Reports statistics.
Nearly half — 46.9 percent — of the incidents were motivated by racial bias.
But for the first time, crimes directed against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation came in second at 20.8 percent, overtaking crimes based on religious bias at 19.8 percent.
“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 Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.
Release of the data came three days after the US Supreme Court said it would consider the legality of same-sex marriage, which is currently permitted in nine states and banned in 38 others.
Most of the hate crimes — 6,216 — were defined as “single bias” incidents in which one or more types of offenses are motivated by the same bias.