One in five lesbian and gay people in Britain have been a victim of one or more homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years.
A new report from the campaign group Stonewall published today also claims that three in four of the victims did not report the incidents to the police.
The incidents of abuse range from serious physical and sexual assaults to insults shouted on the street.
The findings are part of a YouGov survey commissioned by Stonewall which interviewed almost 2,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual people across Britain.
In response to the survey, home secretary Jacqui Smith today tasked the Ministerial Action Group on Violence with addressing homophobic hate crime.
"In the 21st century no one in Britain should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence just because of their sexual orientation," Ms Smith said.
"We're determined that lesbian and gay people should have the confidence to report crimes to the police knowing that they will be taken seriously, the crime investigated and their privacy respected. Our key priorities are to increase reporting; increase offences brought to justice and to tackle repeat victimisation and hotspots."
Stonewall chief executive, Ben Summerskill, added: "It's entirely unacceptable in 2008 that anyone should live in fear of attack and abuse simply because of who they are.
"This evidence is a scar on the face of a modern nation. Stonewall welcomes the home secretary's prompt response to these deeply concerning findings. We look forward to working with the criminal justice system to ensure homophobic hate crimes are reported with more confidence, and the perpetrators brought to justice."
Today's survey found that only six per cent of the homophobic hate crime victims reported the incidents to a third party and seven in ten did not report them to anyone.
It also found that the proportion of gay and lesbian ethnic minorities subjected to abuse was twice as high compared to the overall total.
Mike Cunningham, Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire police, said: "The statistics speak for themselves. It cannot be acceptable that a third of victims do not report incidents to the police because they do not think the police would, or could, do anything about it. Neither is it right that two thirds of those who reported incidents to the police were not offered or referred to advice or support services.
"The findings offer the service a real opportunity to make real improvements both in terms of how homophobic incidents are dealt with but also in terms of raising people's confidence in reporting these incidents in the first place."