Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mexico City adopts inclusive hate crimes measure

I might be wrong here, but Mexico City seems to have become the first municipality in Latin America to adopt a hate crimes measure that specifically includes crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The measure, which was approved on Thursday by an unanimous vote of 39-0 in the Federal District Legislative Assembly, adds a section to Article 138 of the city's Penal Code which establishes that homicides and lesions will be considered as "hate crimes" when they are committed due to hate, and when "the agent commits it based on social or economic status: By association, affiliation or relationship with a defined social group."

A hate crime, the measure says, can be motivated by "ethnic or social origin, nationality or place of origin, color or any other genetic characteristic, sex, language, gender, religion, age, opinions, disability, health status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, occupation or activity of the victim."

Milenio, which reported on passage of the measure on it's August 20th edition, says that LGBT advocates have already claimed that homophobia might be at play in the murders of six gay men during the last year, even if authorities have said otherwise. The latest, they say, occurred on August 15th, when 24 year old Victor Galán, who had moved to live in Mexico City a month earlier, was stabbed 12 times and found dead in his apartment. Advocates say that robbery was not a motive in the crime and that they suspect he was killed based on the fact that he was gay. Authorities, on the other hand, say that they have not ruled out a "crime of passion."

After the Assembly vote, Assemblymember Ricardo García Hernández applauded the measure and said that such crimes are often left unresolved. “In the majority of the cases, the investigation and the persecution of these crimes do not advance since authorities tend to classify them as 'crimes of passion,'" he said.

"Hate" will now be considered as an aggravating circumstance when it comes to determining punishment although the Milenio article does not specify the extent of any additional punitive measures when an attack is determined to be a hate crime.

According to WikiPedia, the only other country in Latin America with a hate crimes law is Brazil, but it does not specifically include sexual orientation or gender identity under the protected status.


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