Thursday, 2 February 2012

Times: Minister, gay movement to meet over hate crime

Talks follow attack on two girls
Sunday, January 29, 2012, by Sarah Carabott

Protestors in Ħamrun on Thursday called against all forms of hate crime. Photo: Jason Borg

The Justice Minister will this week meet Malta Gay Rights Movement members to discuss the inclusion of gay hate crime in Maltese law.

The social network community has been calling for more extensive legislation which includes hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation.

The pressure grew after The Sunday Times reported last week that two girls were attacked by two teenage boys because of their sexual orientation.

On Thursday, nine organisations and NGOs, in collaboration with the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM), presented proposals for more inclusive legislation.

When contacted, a Justice Ministry spokesman said the legislation being demanded forms part of Bill 97/2010 called 'An Act to amend various laws relating to criminal matters'.

The House Business Committee has yet to decide when to bring it up for the second reading. But although the organisations are calling for amendments to some five articles of the law (and the Press Act), the Bill is proposing amendments to two.

The ministry spokesman directed the newspaper to two proposed amendments, which include adding 'homophobia' to 'xenophobia' as motivation for an offence.

The proposals presented by the organisations are more comprehensive and include the 'Condoning, denying or trivialising crimes against peace against a group' section.

A ministry spokesperson said Justice Minister Chris Said will this week meet members of the Malta Gay Rights Movement to discuss various issues, including legislation of hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation.

Currently, the only legal protection gay people have refers to discrimination in terms of harassment. The part of the law that speaks about hate crime is limited to racial hatred.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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