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Hate crimes reached record levels in Los Angeles County in 1991, driven up by attacks on homosexuals that are becoming increasingly frequent and more violent.

"We appear to be a less concerned, less compassionate society than we were several decades ago," the county Human Relations Commission reported Thursday.The commission documented 672 criminal incidents in 1991, a 22 percent increase over the previous year's record of 550.

Homosexuals were the primary target. The 169 anti-gay crimes represented a 36 percent increase over the previous year's record. Those crimes included 117 attacks on gay men.

"The underlying problem is fear of differences and hostility toward people who are different," commission chief Eugene Mornell said.

Religiously motivated hate crime did not increase. There were 150 such crimes, including 130 against Jews. There were 130 racially motivated crimes against blacks, 67 against Hispanics and 54 against Asians.

The commission tracks graffiti, vandalism, hate literature, cross burnings and other expressions of hate in addition to physical attacks.