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NGOs call for urgent homophobic hate crime legislation

The Malta Gay Rights Movement, Aditus and Drachma condemn act of violence on girl in Hamrun.

22 January 2012, 12:00am
On Friday a 16-year old lesbian girl was attacked by two men in Hamrun.
On Friday a 16-year old lesbian girl was attacked by two men in Hamrun.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and human rights organisation Aditus, strongly condemned the act of violence that took place in Hamrun against two young women on Friday 13 January as reported in the Sunday Times and expressed their solidarity with the victims and their families.

On Friday a 16-year-old lesbian and her girlfriend were attacked by two young men in Ħamrun. The girl was apparently attacked of her sexual orientation.

"In many countries, such an assault would be investigated as a hate crime but Malta has yet to extend hate crime legislation to include the grounds of homophobia and transphobia," the statement said.

MGRM and Auditus said violence on lesbian, gay and trans people is not an uncommon occurrence "although most incidents do not get reported to the police or featured in newspapers. Trust in the police force is an essential factor in encouraging and enabling LGBT victims to come forward and report such crimes."

Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the MGRM said "This is a shocking act of violence that continues to affirm the dangers that the LGBT community faces in coming out."

Neil Falzon, from Aditus, said "We're further concerned at the girl's current safety and hope that she is offered adequate protection from re-victimisation, including during any criminal investigations and court proceedings."

The two organisations added that the way police reacted to this assault, had an effect on the reporting of other similar incidents. "We therefore hope that charges will be brought against the perpetrators and that the assault is treated with the seriousness it deserves," the statement said.

"We would also like to express our concern with regards to allegations made by the mother of the victim with regards to the difficulties and harassment experienced by the daughter in school when her sexual orientation became known, particularly as this seems to have involved inappropriate behaviour by teachers." MGRM and Auditus urged the Department of Educational Services to investigate such claims and reiterated once again the need to introduce clear policies and guidelines that protect LGBT students and staff from harassment and discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The Drachma Parents' Group, a support group for parents and relatives of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans also condemned the act of violence and extended its solidarity with the victims and their families. Drachma urged the Maltese society and the Christian Community to take stronger action against homophobic remarks and to stand up in defence of victims suffering harassment and violence, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Those LGBT people who have experienced similar incidents or require support are encouraged to contact MGRM on [email protected] or call the National Gay Helpline: on 9925 5559. 

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Noel Vella
Why have the names of the two boys who attacked the girls not been published? Why have the names of the teachers who have not stopped the bullying not been published? Their behaviour is shameful and publishing their names would perhaps shame them into behaving better! And from what I've read, the police were called, they talked to the boys, but haven't laid charges!! How is that possible? Why isn't someone in government investigating this lack of police rigour? What is going on here?
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