NEWS IN SHORT

Law change criminalises homophobia

AN AMENDMENT to the Criminal Code passed by MPs on May 22 will introduce several changes, among them milder sentences for people convicted of producing, keeping, and trading drugs. The change should create more opportunity for courts to sentence for specific drug-related crimes in a more appropriate way, and to distinguish between dealers and users of drugs, the Justice Ministry stated.

AN AMENDMENT to the Criminal Code passed by MPs on May 22 will introduce several changes, among them milder sentences for people convicted of producing, keeping, and trading drugs. The change should create more opportunity for courts to sentence for specific drug-related crimes in a more appropriate way, and to distinguish between dealers and users of drugs, the Justice Ministry stated.

Punishments for extremism and related crimes are also more specifically defined in the amended code, with the wording of the law changed to specifically include sexual orientation among the possible motives for hate crimes. This move was particularly welcomed by the LGBTI community as “the most significant accommodating step of the Slovak government so far”.

“The amendment to the Criminal Code for the first time clearly states that homophobia is unacceptable for the state in the same way as racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of intolerance,” Martin Macko, the executive director of the Inakosť civic association and deputy chair of the Committee for LGBTI people’s rights, wrote in a statement provided to The Slovak Spectator. The amendment will allow the police to record statistics about such cases, which are currently practically invisible, Macko added.

The amendment, however, still doesn’t address the situation of transgender people, a group most threatened by violent hate crimes, according to Macko, who explained that the law now defines hate based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

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