Cases of anti-gay violence and harassment rose 42 percent last year, a survey in six major U.S. cities found. Experts blame the increase in part on new openness about homosexuality and the fear of AIDS.

The survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute was released in New York on Wednesday, which the organization designated National Awareness Day on Anti-Lesbian and Gay Violence.The Washington-based institute found 1,588 reported incidents of anti-gay violence in 1990 in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul. They ranged from verbal assaults and police abuse, to arson and murder.

"People who hate us are striking out against that visibility to drive us back into the silence and invisibility of the closet," said task force spokesman Robert Bray.

"Greater visibility has been enormously empowering and has opened doors to understanding and acceptance," the report said. "However, it also has triggered hostility and made gay and lesbian people a more identifiable target for potential assailants."

The task force collected its statistics from gay service organizations in each metropolitan area. Broken down, they found: New York had 507 incidents in 1990, up 65 percent from 1989; San Francisco 425, up 29 percent; Los Angeles 199, up 20 percent; Chicago 198, up 11 percent; Boston area 147, up 75 percent; and Minneapolis-St. Paul area 112, up 133 percent.

Among these, 5 percent of the total involved anti-AIDS epithets, the same percentage as in 1989.