The Victorian Government has recommitted to introduce anti-hate sentencing legislation after a report by the Sentencing Advisory Council was handed down late last month.
State Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced in June the Government’s intention to amend Section 5 of the Sentencing Act to require judges to take hate or prejudice into account when sentencing a offender.
This may result in harsher penalties for offenders.
The proposed changes could have an impact on the gay and lesbian community by deterring those who may commit homophobic crimes.
According to the Council’s report, the fact an offender was motivated by hatred or prejudice increases the seriousness of the offence, compared to a similar offence not motivated by hate.
-œThe seriousness will be further compounded where the offender has committed the offence with other people, the report said.
Currently the Sentencing Act leaves it to the individual court to determine what factors are relevant in a particular case and how they should be viewed for sentencing.
-œSentencing courts would make it clear that crimes motivated by hatred or prejudice will not be tolerated by the community, Hulls said.
-œThis would not only punish an offender and denounce their conduct, but it could serve as a deterrent to other offenders committing crimes motivated by hatred or prejudice.
The legislation is due to go before Parliament before the end of the year.