The Australian state at the centre of a furore over attacks on Indian students said that it would introduce hate laws to combat the problem, which has caused outrage on the sub-continent.
Authorities in Victoria said they would look at changing laws so that judges can take account of prejudice against a particular group of people when sentencing for a crime.
The move is an attempt to contain the fallout from a series of attacks on Indian students, although the changes would apply to hate crimes prompted by religion, sexual orientation and gender, as well as race.
“It may lead, in certain circumstances, to increased penalties,” Victorian state Attorney-General Rob Hulls said.
“What we’re looking at is ensuring that judges take into account whether or not a crime has been committed purely based on hatred or vilification of a particular group.”
Hulls said the changes should be introduced by the end of the year. Police say 30 per cent of assaults in Melbourne’s western suburbs are against Indians.
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