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Violence against gays up following court decision 

Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people rose sharply in the last half of 2003, according to an advocacy group that's attributing the increase to a backlash following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last June to overturn anti-sodomy laws.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs on Tuesday announced it had received 24 percent more reports of violent incidents during the six-month period compared with the same period the previous year.

In Colorado, reports grew a whopping 133 percent, according to the coalition's Denver-based branch office, the Colorado Anti-Violence Program.

The numbers are not scientific but are based on how many people contacted the coalition's offices around the country to ask for help. The coalition operates hotlines for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people victimized by violence and also offers counseling services.

Clarence Patton, a national spokesman for the coalition, said some of the increase could be due to improved reporting. However, he said that historically, incidents that raise the profile of the gay-rights movement have sparked violent backlashes.

The Colorado Anti-Violence Program received 100 reports of anti-gay violence between July and December of last year, up from 43 during the same period in 2002.

"This is a stunning increase," said Denise de Percin, director of the Colorado Anti-Violence Program. "While as individuals and as a community we need to take steps to ensure our safety, the CAVP also calls on law-enforcement agencies in Colorado to respond to the very real threats against our community."

-- Terje Langeland

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