I have a pretty radical stance towards hate crimes legislation. I’m not the type of person who likes to push legislation as an answer to way communities are brutalized. Laws certainly won’t bring back the dead and a society with hate woven into the fabric of its narrative isn’t going to stop attacking people it sees as “imperfections” in that weave.
That being said, in Mexico City there have been at least 6 murders of gay men that have not been classified as hate crimes. Instead, authorities in the D.F. label the deaths as “crimes of passion”. From vecino Blabbeando:
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.”
Perhaps as a reaction to the community outcry, last week the Federal District Legislative Assembly unanimously:
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.”
While it is not clear how this will be put into practice when hate crimes are investigated and prosecuted, nor is it clear if there are any additional punitive measures when an attack is determined to be a hate crime, the fact that this is happening in Latin America, Mexico, often maligned and “othered” for its “machismo”, says something. Perhaps the law in and of itself won’t change anything pero could such legislation, por lo menos, open the space for more conversation about whose lives we value and how?