LGBT rights in Malta
|LGBT rights in Malta|
|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|
|No recognition of same-sex couples|
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.
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. It was not until 1973 that the Labour government decided to bring the island in line with most of Western Europe.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM), was founded in 2001, and remains a socio-political non-governmental organisation which 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 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.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
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. 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)
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 employment 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.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions are currently recognised in Malta. 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.
On June 2012, a poll commissioned by MalToday news website found support for same-sex marriage at a record high, with 60% of people aged 18–35 supporting same-sex marriage. The poll found a generational gap, with only 23% of people older than 55 supporting the change. Overall, the poll found that 41% of the population was in favor of same-sex marriage and that 52% was against it, a big change in comparison to 2006, when only 18% of the population supported it.
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 expected to be presented in Parliament in September 2013.
The debate on a Civil Unions Bill - which would give LGBT couples similar rights to married couples - started in October 2013
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.
- "Maltese President Meets with ILGA-Europe (Baltimore Gay Life - Maryland's LGBT Community Newspaper)". Baltimore Gay Life. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "maltastar.com". maltastar.com. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "Dr Inġ. Patrick Attard: Library on Gay-Rights in Malta and Beyond: Leħen is-Sewwa 1973: Ittra Pastorali kontra d-Dekriminilazzjoni ta' l-Omosesswalità". Patrickattard.blogspot.com. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "Malta". Age of Consent. 20 August 1998. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "Malta transsexual given permission to marry". Pink News. 16 February 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "Transsexual insists on her right to marry". timesofmalta.com. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "The Status Of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Rights In Malta" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Heartening change in attitudes to put gay unions on political agenda
- Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage
- Vasallo, Raphael (5 June 2013). "Civil partnership bill expected after summer". Malta Today. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- Malta's gay group ask for equal rights, Pink News, 21 February 2008
- AN ACT to amend the Equality for Men and Women Act, Cap. 456
- AN ACT to amend the Criminal Code, Cap. 9
- Malta: Gender identity and sexual orientation included in hate crime laws
- Gay rights movement welcomes passing of hate crimes amendments