LGBT rights in Malta

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LGBT rights in Malta
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Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1973
Gender identity/expression May change the indication of sex in official documentation
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption -
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections in employment (see below)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Malta may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Malta, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Decriminalisation of homosexual acts

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Malta. The age of consent is equal at 18 for all [1].

Gender identity/expression

In 2007 a judge in Malta has ordered government officials to issue the appropriate documentation to permit Ms. Joanne Cassar, a transsexual woman to get married. The court's ruling is the first of its kind in the country, which joined the EU in 2004.[1]. The Director of Public Registry contested the ruling in May 2008 and won. Ms. Cassar filed a constitutional application in the First Hall of the Civil Court insisting this was in violation of her fundamental human rights. (source [2])

The legal recognition of transitioning transgender people are covered by two pieces of legislation, namely;

  • Chapter 452 Employment and Industrial Relations Act
  • EU Council Directive 2006/54/EC

Both aim to implement equality of opportunity and equal treatment of men and women in matters of emploment and occupation. Transgendered persons in Malta who have undergone irreversible gender re-assignment surgery may change the indication of sex in official documentation such as identity cards, birth certificates and passports [3].

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions are currently recognised in Malta.

A Eurostat poll conducted in 2006 showed Malta at 18% support for same-sex marriage.[2]

However, support among young people appears to be much higher. An October 2009 poll showed that 49% of university students supported same-sex marriage, while 35% were opposed and 16% were undecided.[3]

Discrimination protections

Since 2004, Malta has a ban on anti-gay discrimination in employment, in line with European Union requirements.[4]

The Malta Gay Rights Movement is currently lobbying to have anti-discrimination laws extended to cover discrimination in the provisions of goods and services, and other areas.

Living conditions

In July 2007, Malta's Union of Teachers threatened to publish the details of four attempts to oust gay and lesbian teachers from Roman Catholic school posts. According to the union, Church schools were under pressure from parents to fire the teachers, leading to four interventions in the past five years.

There are quite a few gay clubs, including 'Tom's Bar', situated in Floriana, which is the oldest gay club in Malta. Another gay club is 'Klozett' in Paceville.

LGBT rights movement in Malta

The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM), founded in 2001, is a socio-political non-governmental organisation which has as its central focus the challenges and rights of the Maltese LGBT community.

In February 2008, MRGM organised and presented a petition to parliament asking for a range of measures to be introduced to protect them through the law. The petition received the backing of Alternattiva Demokratika with leader Harry Vassallo addressing the Malta Times newspaper, saying that the recognition of gay rights would be a step forward. The petition was signed by more than 1,000 people and asked for legal recognition of same-sex couples, an anti-homophobic bullying strategy for the island nation's schools and new laws targeting homophobic and transphobic crimes.

In October 2009 the president of Malta, George Abela, met with the board of the European Region of ILGA at the presidential palace as the group prepared to open its 13th annual conference in Malta. In the meeting Abela agreed that information and education were important in tackling discrimination and fostering acceptance of differences—and that Malta has seen progress in LGBT acceptance. He was also reported as saying that "love is the most important thing there is and it can't be "graded" based on sexual orientation". This was the first time a head of state has met with ILGA-Europe members during one of the group's annual conferences [5].

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