Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the 2013 – 2018 legislative period
There have been some important changes for Malta’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people since 1973, when the law criminalising sodomy was repealed. These have included the transposition of the EU’s Employment Framework and Freedom of Movement Directives; the amendment to the Criminal Code regulating hate crimes, extending the scope of the law to include sexual orientation and gender identity and the extension of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) remit to include these grounds. There was also the introduction of articles 257 of the Civil Code allowing for the change in name and gender annotations in official documents of post-operative transgender persons. These have given LGBT people some of the basic legal rights and protections that other people have long taken for granted.
However, LGBT people continue to face prejudice and discrimination on a regular basis and in a number of spheres.
Taking the above into consideration, this document outlines recommendations and actions that the Maltese Parliament and Executive can take to bring true equality, freedom from discrimination and human rights violations, within reach for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Malta.
1. Gender Identity
- The Maltese Government should take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to fully respect and legally recognise each person’s self-defined gender identity to introduce a comprehensive Gender Identity Bill that would facilitate the gender recognition of transgender persons irrespective of whether they have undergone gender reassignment surgery and which would ensure that such recognition had effect on all spheres of life including marriage.
2. Education and young people
- The Maltese Government and the Education Directorates should take immediate steps to counter the discrimination faced by young LGBT people and young people within LGBT families, ensuring policies provide adequate protection for students, staff and teachers of different sexual orientations and gender identities against all forms of social exclusion within the school environment, including bullying and harassment.
- The Maltese Government should take immediate steps to ensure that transgender students are able to have their preferred gender recognised and to be treated as such by all educational institutions irrespective of their legal status, thus ensuring that all students have access to opportunities and resources for lifelong learning without discrimination.
- The Maltese Government should ensure that education methods, curricula and resources serve to enhance understanding of and respect for, inter alia, diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, including the particular needs of students, their parents and family members related to these grounds.
3. Leadership against prejudice
- The Maltese Government and Parliament should make clear public commitments to LGBT equality, and should speak out against prejudice when it is expressed by others, thus ensuring that the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression does not violate the rights and freedoms of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
- The Government should use its media profile to promote the message that transphobic and homophobic prejudice and discrimination are unacceptable.
- The Maltese Parliament should ensure that the NCPE places a high priority on promoting respect for the dignity and worth of all people and that it is adequately resourced in order for it to be effective given the extension in its remit.
4. Equality in employment and services
- The Government should intensify its efforts to mainstream equality, including LGBT equality, in all areas of public service.
- The Maltese Parliament should legislate to extend anti-discrimination legislation in the provision of goods and services to the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
- Working with the NCPE and the LGBT voluntary sector, the Government should promote equality and fairness, including for LGBT people, in employment and access to goods and services.
5. Equality for LGBT families
- The Maltese Government should provide equal rights and recognition at par with marriage to same-sex couples by taking all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure that any right, obligation, entitlement, privilege or benefit available to different-sex partners is equally available to same-sex unmarried partners.
- The Maltese Parliament should amend the Embryo Protection Act to decriminalise and allow for third party gametes donation and provide equal access to reproductive health services to individuals and couples irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity,
- The Maltese Government should legislate and take all administrative and other measures to allow for third party and second parent adoption by same sex couples, ensuring LGBT people’s right to found a family, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.