The Bill was proposed during a protest following the incident against two young lesbians in Hamrun earlier this year.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement has welcomed the passing of hate crime amendments to the Criminal Code which extend the scope of the law from race and creed to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill was approved by parliament last night.
"We thank both sides of the House for supporting this bill and sending a strong message to society that targeting someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable and will incur tougher penalties," MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said.
The Bill was proposed during a protest following the incident against two young lesbians in Hamrun earlier this year and was supported by NGOs aditus, We Are, LGBT-Labour, Drachma and Drachma Parents, Graffitti, Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh and Integra Foundation. "The courage of these young people to report the crime played an important role in providing the required impetus to move forward with this legislative proposal which had been on MGRM's agenda for a number of years," Calleja said.
Calleja said the next step was ensuring that police are adequately trained in dealing with such crimes and in actively reaching out to the LGBT community to ensure that victims feel safe to come forward and report such incidents.
"We also look forward to the passing of a second bill which will extend the remit of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality to also cover sexual orientation and gender identity. This is expected to take place this week. It will allow the Commission to act as mediator and to investigate allegations of discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity."