A Maltese man is walking free after running over an Australian tourist in his car who ‘provoked’ him by implying he was gay.
Alan Gauci, of Mellieha, was let off the hook by Magistrate Carol Peralta yesterday (9 October), after he admitted to causing permanent disability to Jeremy Lalic in 2004.
Six years ago on 21 March, Gauci deliberately ran his victim over in a car at 4am after being called ‘gay’ by the tourist
Peralta said ‘perhaps in the accused’s psyche and other villagers’, it was not acceptable’ to be called gay.
Speaking to Gay Star News, liberal political party Alternattiva Demokratika spokesman Ralph Cassar said it was ridiculous attempting to justify someone running a man over in a car.
‘It doesn’t justify violence. It was more than violence, it was basically attempted murder. Calling someone gay does not justify what that man admitted he did,’ he said, adding he hoped it would go to the Court of Appeals.
Cassar added that Mellieha is not a ‘back-water village’, and there is no reason to blame the people for the violence of one man.
Director of Malta Gay Rights Movement Gabi Calleja said: ‘While the accused might have felt that being called gay was an insult to his manhood and damaged his reputation, the message that the court is sending by this sentence is that homophobia is to be condoned rather than challenged.
‘Irrespective of where the accused was from, the reaction was disproportionate to the harm suffered.’
As one of the smallest European Union nations, Malta has seen support for gay rights rise.
In a 2012 poll by news source MalToday, it found 41% of the population was in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2004, only 18% of Maltese people supported it.