Hate crime incidents in the US rose by nearly 8 per cent last year, according to an FBI report.

There were 7,722 reported cases targeting victims or their property as a result of bias against sexual orientation, race, religion,national origin or physical or mental disability.

The numbers are thought to be higher than reported however, due to only 12,600 of the US’s 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participating in the report.

Joe Solomonese, president of the civil rights ground Human Rights Campaign told the St Louis Post: “This FBI report confirms that hate crime protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community are long overdue.”

He also called on Congress to pass legislation that would expand hate crime statute to include crimes motivated by sexual orientation.