The Victorian GLBTI community has welcomed the announcement of an extensive review into the state’s crime laws to see if they stack up when dealing with hate-motivated crime.
The review, to be conducted by retired Supreme Court judge Geoff Eames, was announced last week by Attorney-General Rob Hulls in a bid to “address community concerns” about hate crime.
“Crimes motivated by hatred for a person’s race, their sexual orientation, their disability, are totally abhorrent and ought to be dealt with by the full force of the law,” Hulls said.
The Eames review will also look at whether Victoria should establish laws for hate-crime offences, similar to coverage in the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act for racial and religious vilification.
ALSO Foundation acting CEO Kylie Smith called the review an “important progression” for the GLBTI community.
The announcement follows the royal assent of the Victorian Sentencing Amendment Act which now requires judges to take into account crime motivated by hate or prejudice when handing down a sentence.
The sentencing laws were introduced by the Government in September to crack down on prejudice-motivated crime against minority groups, including the GLBTI community.
Although there’s been criticism the new laws may not hit at the causes of homophobic violence, Anti-Violence Project convenor Greg Adkins welcomed their introduction and hopes the Eames review will develop greater protections for the GLBTI community.
Adkins told Southern Star recent reports of an attack at a Port Melbourne beat point to the need for an improved legal response.
“That one crime has dire outcomes for our whole community,” Adkins said.
“If the community doesn’t embrace a change like [the Sentencing Act] we are allowing people to continue to do that and saying it’s okay for people to be violent towards us.”
The Eames review is due to be handed down on Sept 1, 2010.