A surge in anti-gay hate crimes has been linked to Proposition 8, the initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.

Anti-gay incidents accounted for more than half of hate crime cases last year – 56 per cent.

This is an increase from only 15 per cent in 2007. There were 14 anti-gay cases out of 25 hate-crime cases in 2008, compared with only three out of 20 in 2007.

Deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County, Jay Boyarsky, told the Mercury News that a jump in anti-gay hate crime is due to controversy over the marriage ban.

He said: “My belief from having done this work for many years is that surges in types of hate incidents are linked to the headlines and controversies of the day

“Marriage equality and Proposition 8 have been in the news, and we have seen an increase in gay-bashing.”

However, the former campaign manager for Proposition 8 argued that the statistics did not reflect cases in which opponents harassed and threatened supporters of the ban.

“I certainly hope Proposition 8 did not result in more crime,” said Frank Schubert of the group Protect Marriage. “But if it did, it did so on both sides.”