Does the law in Latvia protect all groups of society against violence?

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Following the attack against professor, culture researcher Deniss Hanovs and his partner, discussions arose whether all groups of society are legally protected from violence, Latvian Radio reported November 11.

Last Sunday evening, a homophobia-motivated attack was carried out against Rīga Stradiņš University professor Deniss Hanovs, which also featured threats of rape. The police explained that the law states that a case may be initiated regarding the expression of a threat of rape against a woman, but there is no corresponding article regarding the expression of such threats to a man.

Latvian Radio asked representatives of coalition parties in the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee to see if the law against perpetrators of violence is equal and harsh enough. The Committee's representative Inese Voika (Development/For!), said that such attacks are unacceptable and this has highlighted the need to work on problems already identified earlier.

“Criminal law does not, of course, provide gender divisions, but it is a matter of interpretation of the Criminal Law and court practice. And the other question is which threats are criminally punished and which are not. It's the other thing we're focusing on.

The criminal law should also include sexual orientation in relation to hate and hate crimes. That's the direction we're looking at,” Voika said.

Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, representing New Unity, told Latvian Radio that it was difficult to judge the case without knowing the details. Aivars Geidāns (KPV LV), explained that the matter had not yet been discussed in the party's faction. He personally considers that the case at hand does not reveal any shortcomings of the law, because the law already protects everyone equally. The fact that nothing needs to be changed in the law, because it already protects everyone, regardless of any signs otherwise, is also considered by Jānis Iesalnieks (National Alliance).

Meanwhile, the head of the commission Juris Jurašs (New Conservative Party) said: “Any violence or threat is reprehensible and must be fought, but I currently do not see any problems.

We could talk about perhaps insufficient knowledge on the part of the implementers. But at the moment, I have no concern that the legal framework would not be sufficient to prevent law enforcement authorities from acting and punishing the perpetrators in this particular case.”

Meanwhile, at the resource center Marta , women who have suffered from different kinds of violence are encountered daily. The head of Marta, Iluta Lāce, has clearly defined the flaws in the law at this moment.

“If we are talking about sexual harassment, it is defined and found in the Labor Act. But if we are talking about other places and spheres, this offense is not even criminalized in reality.

This is one small example that shows that there is still a lot to be strengthened and regulated in our laws and the law enforcement system should be more serious about these crimes,” said Lāce.

She explained that the center had conducted a study on sexual abuse against males a few years ago. The findings show that sexual abuse also exists against men, especially younger ones, and is most frequently carried out by peers. Victims often do not look for help. According to the study, one in five girls and one in ten young males has experienced sexual abuse.

Explaining the articles of the Criminal Law, the Director of the Criminal Law Department of the Ministry of Justice Indra Gratkovska told Latvian Radio that only a woman can be raped, according to Criminal Law, but that men are also protected by the Criminal Law in this aspect.

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