Sunday, June 25, 2006

Justice for all

In a rare victory for common sense two men who murdered a random stranger were given long prison sentences last week. Hopefully they will never be released, but they will at least spend a minimum of 28 years in prison. One thing concerns me. The sentence was only this long because their victim was gay. Had he been heterosexual the sentence would have been much shorter. Is this fair? The random murder of strangers is a horrendous crime whether the victim is gay or straight, black or white. Equality before the eyes of the law is a basic principle and I expect the law to protect my fellow citizens regardless of their skin colour or sexual orientation. If a gang of thugs carry out a brutal attack on an innocent passer-by then they should face life behind bars regardless of their twisted motives. A thousand years ago the Anglo Saxon tribes who inhabited these isles operated a system called Wergild by which the penalty for a crime was determined by the social status if the victim. Today, with a murderer’s penalty being dependent not on their crime, but on the victim’s minority status, we seem to be regressing to a similarly crude form of justice.


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