Malta’s LGBTIQ+ laws may earn global praise. Still, horrific attacks on people within these communities will continue with the Hate Crime Unit now investigating a swathe of vitriolic comments attacking a trans woman who dared criticise the government.
Angela Coleiro has been outspoken in her criticism of the government’s recent COVID-19 policy, as have many others in the social media sphere. However, people believed to be Labour Party supporters took to bashing Coleiro’s gender identity in several posts.
“She changed her sex, can you imagine how easily she changes her principles,” one person said.
Others decided to intentionally misgender Coleiro, while some took to attempting to reveal Coleiro’s previous identity with some glee. One person even told her to stifle her criticism to the government who “let her wear dresses”. “Otherwise you would be thrown away,” the person said.
“Did they think I was going to go into a corner and cry? I’m not afraid of bullies.”
“I have all the evidence I need, and to the cowards who removed their comments because they’re afraid it’s too late, I’ve taken a screenshot and handed them in to police,” Coleiro said on social media.
Deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg, who filed the report with the Hate Crime Unit, was shocked by the incident, explaining to Lovin Malta:
“This is an extremely nasty attack. It’s awful that people think they can just get away with it. I don’t care if they think it was a joke. Besides, how is it even funny?”
“We can have the best laws in the world and tick all the boxes on international surveys, but the truth is they’re not sinking in. We’re not following laws up with proper campaigns. This is a perfect example. It’s totally unacceptable.”
Coleiro also filed a report with the Hate Crime Unit, who have since confirmed that they are investigating the issue. Hate speech on the basis on someone’s gender identity is enshrined in Malta’s laws and constitution. Being found guilty of the offence comes with a €1,000 to €5,000 fine.
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