An attack in Malta which left a 16-year-old lesbian with a fractured nose has prompted calls for the government to introduce hate crime legislation to protect gays.
The girl, referred to as Amy, said was sitting with her girlfriend on a park bench in the town of Ħamrun when she was attacked by two young men.
In an interview with Malta’s Sunday Times, she said the men had called her and her girlfriend “twisted” before attacking them, leaving her with bruises and facial injuries.
She said: “It was a horrible experience… All of a sudden one of the boys picked me up and punched me in my eye… He grabbed me my breasts then head-butted my nose and threw me onto the ground, grabbed my hair and pulled me across the ground,”
Two brothers have been arrested in connection with the incident.
Maltese rights advocates have pointed out that Malta has no hate crime legislation covering anti-gay attacks.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement and Aditus said in a statement: “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.”
They added: “Trust in the police force is an essential factor in encouraging and enabling LGBT victims to come forward and report such crimes. For this reason, how the police react to this assault, also has 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.”
A Facebook group, the Amy Initiative, has been set up on Facebook to draw attention to the case and Malta’s lack of gay hate crime legislation.
It says: “This group is regarding the lack of hate crime laws with respect to sexual orientation. Malta’s hate crime laws do NOT cover this,” the group’s description says.
“AMY is a pseudonym used in the article, but AMY could be anyone -your sister, your cousin,your brother,your uncle. HOMOPHOBIA is real in Malta. There is NO EXCUSE for it, don’t let it go ignored.”
Malta Gay Rights Movement said a 2003 study showed one in every 10 gay people on the islands are subjected to some form of violence because of their sexual orientation.