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MALTA TO HAVE EUROPE’S MOST COMPREHENSIVE GENDER IDENTITY, GENDER EXPRESSION AND SEX CHARACTERISTICS ACT

Reference Number: PR150698, Press Release Issue Date: Apr 01, 2015
 
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat describes this day as a historic one where Government will enact yet another milestone for civil liberties
 
Ahead of a final vote in Parliament this evening on the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Bill, the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties organised a half day seminar entitled “Beyond the Binary: Equality for Trans, Genderqueer and Intersex People” to discuss the implications and significance of such Bill.
 
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat described this day as a historic one where Government will enact yet another milestone for civil liberties in Malta. He explained how a great success in the field of minority rights was registered in terms of human rights, with regards to the equality cause of lesbians, bisexuals, trans, intersex and queer people whereby results have been achieved both locally and internationally over the past two years. Nowadays Malta is looked at as a leader in Europe when it comes to these rights.
 
Dr Muscat said that Government has not only  successfully included gender identity in the anti-discrimination article of Malta’s Constitution, but will today approve a Bill that guarantees human rights and equality on grounds of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
 
The Prime Minister emphasised how through tonight’s vote, the Government will be honouring the rights of trans, genderqueer and intersex people and rectifying past human rights breaches whilst also setting these individuals and their communities on the path towards full integration in the new Malta that we are working towards. Furthermore, it will also be sending out a clear signal to other governments that the rights of trans, genderqueer and intersex people are important and need to be put on the agenda, both domestically and internationally.
 
Dr Muscat recalled how a year ago, Malta enacted the Civil Unions Act, which many continue to regard as a highlight of this legislature and stressed that as a nation, we aspire to be the Best in Europe.
 
In her opening speech, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties Dr Helena Dalli emphasised the significance of tonight’s final vote in Parliament which will enact the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Bill. She explained how this vote has been long overdue, with many trans people being left to deal with various requirements in our legal system, such as the need to be sterilised and undergo complete sex reassignment surgery before submitting a court case to rectify their birth certificate and start to live according to the gender.
 
Dr Dalli referred to Joanne Cassar’s case, who had to fight all the way to the European Court of Human Rights for her right to marry and the way she was met with a disheartening appeal before 2013 by none other than the State that should have been there to protect her.
 
Minister Dalli remarked how she met a number of trans, genderqueer and intersex people who clearly indicated that their life could be perfectly normal had it not been for the institutional discrimination that they face.
 
“All individuals have a gender identity, whether we are aware of it or not, and we all have a right to have it respected by others. We politicians will be simply honouring our obligation to ensure all member of society can enjoy their life, succeed and prosper without discrimination” Minister Dalli added.
 
She emphasised how in two years, Government has turned around Malta’s image and is now seen as the beacon on this issue. Dr Dalli explained how our country will need to continue to further its engagement on LGBTIQ issues at the regional and international level to ensure that the rights in question are respected everywhere.
 
Opposition Spokesman for Equality and Social Dialogue Clyde Puli remarked how the Opposition feels that society is ready to put an end to this suffering of trans and intersex people. He explained how the Opposition has voted in favour of the amendments that were proposed and will also be voting in favour of the Gender Identity Bill during its final vote in Parliament this evening.
 
Gabi Calleja, Chair of the LGBTI Consultative Council gave an overview of the process that lead to the formulation of the Gender Identity Bill and the discussions that ensued within the Consultative Council.
 
Ms Katrin Hugendubel and Mr Richard Kohler, representatives from ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe respectively praised Malta for its huge leap forward in the area of civil liberties. They remarked how this Gender Identity Bill will position Malta at the forefront of the ILGA-Europe map. Katrin Hugendubel stressed how after this evening’s vote, Malta will be the first country ever in Europe to have a bill dealing directly with bodily integrity and self-determination of intersex people.
 
Both representatives appealed for Malta to continue to be a leader for change in the area of civil liberties and to stimulate other European countries to follow suit.
 
The seminar was also addressed by various trans and intersex people, who shared their experiences and grievances, that they had to endure so far in the absence of a legal framework that supports their needs.
 
A highlight of the seminar was a brief comment shared by a seven year old trans child who expressed her wish to be called by her girl’s name Willa. Her parents also contributed positively by sharing their experiences about the issues that they have to deal with on a daily basis as a result of their child’s reality.