23 May 2012 by Annaliza Borg
Parliament on Monday evening started to debate amendments to the Civil Code, for this to cover hate crimes on the basis of sexuality and race or colour.
Introducing the amendments, Justice Minister Chris Said mentioned the recent cases of violence on the basis of homosexuality and noted the government's belief that this needs to be fought with the adequate tools. This is exactly the scope of the amendments.
While condemning any form of violence, he explained that over the past weeks he met a number of NGOs, including the Malta Gay Rights Movement and the human rights organisation Aditus, and they submitted their proposals. These serve as the basis for the amendments to the law.
A number of articles are being amended and this shows the government's belief in diversity. It is meanwhile sending a clear message that society should respect everyone including people of various races, religions and sexuality.
Dr Jose Herrera, on behalf of the Opposition, said that the Labour Party is in favour of these amendments and believes the law has a wider meaning than that described by Dr Said.
He believes that hatred can be instigated simply because someone dislikes another or is jealous – this sort of hatred too can be covered if the law is fine-tuned a bit more.
Moreover, while interpreting the Bill, he said the punishment contemplated for denying historical facts of racial hatred, is more than that for crimes of racial hatred against individuals on the basis of race. He is not of the opinion that this should be so and requested clarification.