02 March 2012 by di-ve - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Criminal Code is expected to be amended in order to establish all kinds of violence as crimes.
At present, crime is classified as "aggravated" when it results from xenophobia. Now, it will be expanded to include gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, ethnic origin, religion or belief, political view or other opinion.
A number of amendments to various laws are to be moved in Parliament by Minister for Justice, Dialogue and the Family, Justice Chris Said on Monday. These include amendments to a number of laws on disability that will bring Maltese law into conformity with the United Nations Convention on the rights of disabled persons.
The Social Securities Act will be amended to include more than 40 medical conditions that previously did not form part of Schedule V. Patients suffering from these conditions, including dementia and chronic illnesses affecting the liver and kidneys, will now be entitled to free medication.
Addressing a news conference, Minister Said said that the Social Securities Act will also be amended in order that the pension of civil servants or employees in government-owned companies or where the government is a majority shareholder, born before January 1962 and who applied for early retirement or an invalidity pension after 2007 will be calculated on the best three years, salary-wise, before retirement.
In reaction auditus, an independent voluntary organisation, said the amendments are a clear statement condemning acts of violence committed out of discrimination against particularly vulnerable groups.
Director Neil Falzon said that they were particularly happy to see the inclusion of gender identity as a protected ground, putting Malta at the forefront of recognising and tackling the difficult and often violent situations faced by transgender persons.
The organisation also welcomed the extension of the remit of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality mandating it formally to deal with discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement together with Integra Foundation, Drachma, LGBT Labour and We Are said that the extension of hate crime legislation to include the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, ethnic origin, religion or belief or political or other opinion sends a strong message that bias-motivated crime is not acceptable in a society that aims to provide equal treatment to all its citizens and offers much needed protection to a wider range of vulnerable groups.
The Movement hopes that this will also be accompanied by appropriate training for the police force with respect to the identification of hate crimes, accompanying measures aimed at reaching out to potential victims and adequate data collection of such crimes.
The organisations also commended the proposal to extend the NCPE remit beyond that based on gender and race to incorporate other grounds including gender identity and sexual orientation. This will enable NCPE to go beyond its current efforts which, when addressing such grounds has been limited to research and awareness raising until now.
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