Sentencing laws addressing hate and prejudice motivation start today

// December 2nd, 2009 // Media discussion, Within Australia

The Anti Violence Project today celebrated commencement of the Sentencing Amendment Act 2009 which received Royal Assent yesterday and came into effect today.

“This new Act of Parliament amends the Sentencing Act 1991 to require that a court must have regard to a motivation of hatred or prejudice against a group of people in sentencing an offender”, said AVP head Greg Adkins.

“On behalf of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community we congratulate Attorney General Rob Hulls on his continued support and advocacy with these latest legal reforms.

“The new Sentencing Amendment Act 2009 draws a line in the sand in our Victorian community to say that crime based on race, religion, gender or orientation won’t be tolerated and ensures that judges take into account during sentencing whether hatred or prejudice motivated the crime.

“This provides greater protection to all of us, gay or straight, those of us who enjoy ethnically and faith diverse lives, supporting our right to live and enjoy a diverse community where we can openly celebrate our sexual orientation, gender, culture, heritage or religion, knowing that under law any attack motivated by hatred or prejudice against these attributes deserves punishment for the hate or prejudice motivation alone.

“There are two steps that now must be taken – firstly the LGBT community must continue to respond to the AVP’s “Call-to-Action” on the reporting of hate and prejudice motivated violence and report each and every incident directly to police or through supportive processes like the AVP’s on-line reporting service at http://antiviolence.info .

“Every time LGBT individuals witness violence, whether its directed towards us or towards people of different races or faiths in the broader community, we have a responsibility to get on the phone and call the police”, Adkins said.

“The second step is that cultural change, underway within Victoria Police, which is working to eliminate a long history of indifference towards hate and bias motivated crime against gays and lesbians, has to continue with support of all levels of Victoria Police and must succeed”.

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