LGBT rights in Malta

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LGBT rights in Malta
Location of  Malta  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Malta  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1973
Gender identity/expression May change the indication of sex in official documentation
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Yes (both sexual orientation and gender identity)
Family rights
Recognition of
Civil unions since 2014
Adoption Yes, as individuals and jointly if in a civil union

Rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Malta have improved in recent years. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Malta. A law passed creating civil unions equal to marriage in all but name, with the same rights and obligations including joint adoption rights and recognition of foreign same sex marriage, was enacted in April 2014. Same-sex marriage and both IVF and surrogacy access are still banned for same-sex couples in Malta.


As a British colony, Malta adopted the penal code of Great Britain which criminalised same-sex relations between men. There are examples of individuals caught out by the law - including the lawyer, Guglielmo Rapinett who was arrested for lewd behaviour in the 19th century while trying to seduce a guard.[citation needed] Only in 1973 did the Labour government decide to change Malta's laws to match those of Western Europe.

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

In February 2008, MGRM organised and presented a petition to parliament asking for a range of measures to be introduced to protect them through the law. 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. The petition received the backing of Alternattiva Demokratika. Harry Vassallo, its leader, said that the recognition of gay rights would be a step forward.[citation needed]

In October 2009, George Abela, the president of Malta, 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. 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 said that "love is the most important thing there is and it can't be 'graded' based on sexual orientation". It the first time a head of state met with ILGA-Europe members during one of the group's annual conferences.[1]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Malta since January 1973.[2][3] The age of consent is equal at 18 for all.[4]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

In September 2006, Joanne Cassar, a transsexual woman, was denied the right to marry her partner. In 2007 a judge in Malta ordered government officials to issue her the appropriate documentation.[5] The Director of Public Registry successfully contested that ruling in May 2008. Cassar filed a constitutional application in the First Hall of the Civil Court charging a violation of her fundamental human rights. She won that case initially, but lost on appeal in 2011.[6] In April 2013, she reached a settlement with the government that included financial compensation in addition to promised statutory changes.[7] A leader of the Nationalist Party apologized for its part in contesting Cassar's right to marry.[8]

Transgendered persons in Malta who have undergone irreversible gender reassignment surgery may change the sex recorded in official documentation such as identity cards, birth certificates and passports.[9]

In April 2014, Malta became the first European state to add recognition of gender identity to its constitution as a protected category.[10]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

On 28 March 2010, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced that the Government was working on a bill to regulate cohabitation—which would include rights for same-sex couples.[citation needed]

Following a campaign promise during the 2013 elections the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties of the newly elected Labour government announced that the government was entering consultations for a bill granting civil unions to same-sex couples, with the bill presented in Parliament on September 30, 2013.[11]

The Civil Unions Bill, which gives LGBT couples rights equivalent to marriage, including the legal right to adopt children jointly, under the legal name civil union rather than marriage, was debated in October 2013[12] and approved at the third reading on 14 April 2014. President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca signed it into law on 16 April and it takes effect once a legal notice is published.[13]

Public opinion[edit]

In June 2012, a poll commissioned by MaltaToday news website found support for same-sex marriage at a record high, with 41% of the population in favor of same-sex marriage and 52% against it.[14] That contrasted with a 2006 poll that found that 18% of the population supported it.[15] The 2012 data also showed a generational gap, with only 23% of people older than 55 supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage while 60% of those aged 18–35 did so.

Adoption, Surrogacy and IVF[edit]

Maltese law grants adoption rights to married couples and single persons, including individual gays and lesbians. Since April 2014, same-sex couples in a civil union can jointly adopt.[16][17]

Surrogacy is illegal regardless and IVF access for single women and lesbians is illegal under the Embryo Protection Act 2012[18]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Since 2004, Malta has a ban on anti-gay discrimination in employment, in line with European Union requirements.[19] Anti-discrimination protections were expanded in June 2012.[20]

In June 2012, the parliament amended the Criminal Code to prohibit hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.[21][22][23]

On 14 April 2014, the Parliament of Malta unanimously approved a bill which amends the Constitution to add protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.[24] It was signed by the President on 17 April 2014.[25]

Living conditions[edit]

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.[26][27]

There are a few gay clubs in Floriana, including Tom Bar, which is the oldest gay club in Malta, as well as Monaliza in Paceville and Valletta.[28]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1973)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1973)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2012)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2012)
Same-sex marriage No
Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. civil unions) Yes (Since 2014)
Adoption by single LGBT person Yes (Since 2008)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2014)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2014)
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to surrogacy for gay male couples and IVF access for lesbians No[29]
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maltese President Meets with ILGA-Europe (Baltimore Gay Life - Maryland's LGBT Community Newspaper)". Baltimore Gay Life. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "". 6 August 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Dr Inġ. Patrick Attard: Library on Gay-Rights in Malta and Beyond: Leħen is-Sewwa 1973: Ittra Pastorali kontra d-Dekriminilazzjoni ta' l-Omosesswalità". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Malta". Age of Consent. 20 August 1998. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Malta transsexual given permission to marry". Pink News. 16 February 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Joanne Cassar loses transsexual marriage case". Times of Malta. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Borg, Annaliza (16 April 2013). "Settlement between Joanne Cassar and government signed". Malta Independent. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Balzan, Jurgen (10 June 2013). "De Marco says PN government let transgender persons down". Malta Today. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Status Of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Rights In Malta" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Dalli, Miriam (16 April 2014). "Transgender Europe applauds Malta for naming gender identity". Malta Today. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Parliament meets today - Bill on Civil Unions tops agenda". Timesof Malta. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Civil Unions law will give same sex couples same rights, duties, as married couples". 14 October 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Camilleri, Neil (17 April 2014). "President signs 'gay marriage' Bill". Malta Independent. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Vella, Matthew (5 June 2012). "Heartening change in attitudes to put gay unions on political agenda". MaltaToday. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "EUROBAROMETER 66 FIRST RESULTS". TNS. European Commission. December 2006. p. 80. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  16. ^ Calleja, Claudia (16 January 2013). "Consensus over gay adoption welcomed". Times of Malta. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  17. ^ White, Hilary (31 March 2014). "Maltese president refuses to sign bill allowing gay civil unions and expanding gay adoption". Life Site News. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Malta's gay group ask for equal rights, Pink News, 21 February 2008
  20. ^ AN ACT to amend the Equality for Men and Women Act, Cap. 456
  21. ^ AN ACT to amend the Criminal Code, Cap. 9
  22. ^ Malta: Gender identity and sexual orientation included in hate crime laws
  23. ^ Gay rights movement welcomes passing of hate crimes amendments
  24. ^ Bill No. 18 - Constitution of Malta (Amendment) Bill
  25. ^ AN ACT to amend the Constitution of Malta
  26. ^ MUT stops Church from firing gay teachers
  27. ^ Malta teachers take on Roman Catholic homophobia
  28. ^ Grech, Joseph (14 January 2013). "Party in the sun on Malta". Gay Star News. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  29. ^ [2]

External links[edit]