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Killings of LGBT people in U.S. rose to a record in 2016: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More LGBT people were killed in the United States in 2016 than in any of the 20 years since record-keeping began, with the total boosted by the deaths of 49 people in an attack at a gay club in Florida last June, an advocacy group said on Monday.

The release of a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs coincides with the first anniversary of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Excluding Pulse victims, 28 Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender were killed in 2016, which was up 17 percent from 24 killed the previous year, according to the annual report. The number of killings last year was the highest since 2012, when 25 LGBT people were killed.

Including Pulse victims, murders of LGBT people rose 217 percent in 2016. Not all of those killed in the nightclub attack were LGBT.

“The enormous tragedy at Pulse Nightclub, in concert with the daily violence and discrimination that pervades our lives as LGBTQ people ... have created a perfect storm of fear and trauma for our communities this year,” Melissa Brown at the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, a member of the coalition, said in a statement.

The “Q” in “LGBTQ” refers “queer,” a term that avoids specifying sexual orientation or gender identity.

The coalition, which has released the report since 1997, said LGBT people remain vulnerable to violence in 2017, especially in what it described as the current “incendiary political climate.”

“Recent executive orders as well as ongoing efforts to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation and roll back protections at the city, state, and federal level make LGBTQ people vulnerable to identity-based discrimination,” Beverly Tillery, with the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said in a statement.

Of the 2016 killings not connected to Pulse nightclub, 79 percent of victims were black or Hispanic and 68 percent were transgender.

LGBT people of color and those with disabilities were more than twice as likely as whites and the able-bodied to be the victims of harassment and non-fatal forms of violence, the report said.

Most of the victims knew their attackers, who commonly included employers, neighbors, landlords and family members, it said.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by David Gregorio