Friday, 23 March 2012

Malta Star: NGOs welcome legal protection for LGBT persons
Friday, 02 Mar 2012, 16:14

The Malta Gay Rights Movement together with Integra Foundation, Drachma, LGBT Labour, Aditus and We Are welcome Minister Chris Said’s announcement with regards to proposals for 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.

The NGOs said on Fruiday afternoon that the "enactment of such legislation 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". They said they hoped that this will also be accompanied by appropriate training to 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 NGOs also said : « We also commend 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 have been limited to research and awareness raising. Providing that legislation is also accompanied with the additional resources required NCPE would also be able to offer support to victims of discrimination.

Maria Pisani stated: "Integra supports these new proposals. But we would like to highlight that to bring about substantive change, legislative change must be accompanied by cultural change. This requires education programs and community awareness raising to change homophobic attitudes".

Gabi Calleja said: "Such legislation has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of LGBT individuals. I hope that it will encourage individuals to come forward and seek assistance when they are victims of violence or discrimination".

Aditus Director Dr. Neil Falzon said: “This is a clear statement condemning acts of violence committed out of discrimination against particularly vulnerable groups. We are 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 simply because they are perceived to be different.”

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Malta Star's website.]

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