Intersex rights in Malta

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Intersex rights in Malta
EU-Malta.svg
Location of Malta (dark green)

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

Protection of physical integrity and bodily autonomyYes
Protection from discriminationYes
Access to identification documentsYes
Access to same rights as other men and womenYes
Changing M/F sex classificationsYes
Third gender or sex classificationsYes
MarriageYes

Intersex rights in Malta since 2015 are among the most progressive in the world. Intersex children in Malta have world-first protections from non-consensual cosmetic medical interventions, following the passing into law of the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act in 2015. All Maltese intersex persons have protection from discrimination. Individuals who seek it can access to simple administrative methods of changing sex assignment, with binary and non-binary forms of identification available.

History[edit]

Medieval[edit]

A 12th-century canon law collection known as the Decretum Gratiani states that "Whether an hermaphrodite may witness a testament, depends on which sex prevails" (Hermafroditus an ad testamentum adhiberi possit, qualitas sexus incalescentis ostendit).[1][2]

Early modern period[edit]

In a court case heard at the Castellania in 1774 during the Order of St John in Malta, 17-year-old Rosa Mifsud from Luqa, later described in clinical literature as a "pseudo-hermaphrodite", petitioned for a change in sex classification from female.[3][4] Two clinicians were appointed by the court to perform an examination. They found that "the male sex is the dominant one".[4] The examiners were the Physician-in-Chief and a senior surgeon, both working at the Sacra Infermeria.[4] The Grandmaster himself took the final decision for Mifsud to wear male-only clothes from then on.[3]

Contemporary times[edit]

Participants at the Third International Intersex Forum where the Malta declaration was made, December 2013

In 2013, Malta hosted the third International Intersex Forum in Valletta, where an civil society statement named the Malta declaration was signed. The event was supported by ILGA and ILGA-Europe, and brought together 34 people representing 30 organisations from multiple regions of the world.[5][6] Local representatives Silvan Agius of ILGA-Europe and Ruth Baldacchino of ILGA hosted and co-organized the event. The declaration affirmed the existence of intersex people, and demanded an end to "discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination".[7][8][9] Silvan Agius subsequently became human rights policy coordinator at the Ministry for Social Dialogue,[10] and Ruth Baldacchino became co-secretary general of ILGA.[11]

In 2015, Malta adopted world-first protections for intersex people, including protection from non-consensual cosmetic changes to sex characteristics in childhood, and protection from discrimination.[12][13]

Physical integrity and bodily autonomy[edit]

  Legal prohibition of non-consensual medical interventions
  Regulatory suspension of non-consensual medical interventions

In April 2015, Malta passed world-first legislation that protects intersex infants and children from non-consensual medical interventions.[14] The Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act recognizes a right to bodily integrity and physical autonomy.[12]

14. (1) It shall be unlawful for medical practitioners or other professionals to conduct any sex assignment treatment and/or surgical intervention on the sex characteristics of a minor which treatment and/or intervention can be deferred until the person to be treated can provide informed consent:

Provided that such sex assignment treatment and/or surgical intervention on the sex characteristics of the minor shall be conducted if the minor gives informed consent through the person exercising parental authority or the tutor of the minor.

(2) In exceptional circumstances treatment may be effected once agreement is reached between the interdisciplinary team and the persons exercising parental authority or tutor of the minor who is still unable to provide consent:

Provided that medical intervention which is driven by social factors without the consent of the minor, will be in violation of this Act.[12]

The Act was widely welcomed internationally by civil society organizations.[13][15][16][17][18]

Protection from discrimination[edit]

  Explicit protection from discrimination on grounds of sex characteristics
  Explicit protection on grounds of intersex status
  Explicit protection on grounds of intersex within attribute of sex

The 2015 Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act protects intersex people from discrimination on grounds of "sex characteristics", as well as offering world-first protection from harmful practices.[12] Sex characteristics was defined as follows:

"sex characteristics" refers to the chromosomal, gonadal and anatomical features of a person, which include primary characteristics such as reproductive organs and genitalia and/or in chromosomal structures and hormones; and secondary characteristics such as muscle mass, hair distribution, breasts and/or structure.[12]

Also in 2015, the Ministry for Education and Employment introduced a policy for trans, gender variant and intersex students in schools, aiming to promote inclusion and combat discrimination.[19]

Identification documents[edit]

The same Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act introduced new provisions allowing applicants to change their gender identity documents by a simple administrative method.[12][13][14] Malta also permits an "X" option on identification documents since 6 September 2017.[10][20] The first ID card and passport with "X" marker were issued on 23 January 2018.[21][22][23]

Marriage[edit]

Legislation to enact marriage equality was introduced following a snap election in mid-2017. It went into effect on 1 September 2017.[24][25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Decretum Gratiani, C. 4, q. 2 et 3, c. 3
  2. ^ "Decretum Gratiani (Kirchenrechtssammlung)". Bayerische StaatsBibliothek (Bavarian State Library). 5 February 2009. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b Savona-Ventura, Charles (2015). Knight Hospitaller Medicine in Malta [1530-1798]. Lulu. p. 115. ISBN 132648222X. Archived from the original on 6 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Cassar, Paul (11 December 1954). "Change of Sex Sanctioned by a Maltese Law Court in the Eighteenth Century". British Medical Journal. Malta University Press. 2 (4901): 1413. PMC 2080334. PMID 13209141. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ First ever international intersex forum Archived 26 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, ILGA-Europe (Creative Commons statement), 6 September 2011
  6. ^ First ever international intersex forum Archived 29 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, ILGA, 7 September 2011
  7. ^ 3rd International Intersex Forum concluded Archived 4 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, ILGA-Europe (Creative Commons statement), 2 December 2013
  8. ^ Global intersex community affirms shared goals Archived 6 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Star Observer, December 4, 2013
  9. ^ (Chinese) 2013第三屆世界陰陽人論壇宣言 Archived 26 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Oii-Chinese, December 2013
  10. ^ a b Dalli, Miriam (3 February 2015). "Male, Female or X: the new gender options on identification documents". Malta Today. Archived from the original on 15 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Introducing the Intersex Fund team at Astraea!". Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. 16 June 2015. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Malta (April 2015), Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act: Final version
  13. ^ a b c Cabral, Mauro (8 April 2015). "Making depathologization a matter of law. A comment from GATE on the Maltese Act on Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics". Global Action for Trans Equality. Archived from the original on 4 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  14. ^ a b Reuters (1 April 2015). "Surgery and Sterilization Scrapped in Malta's Benchmark LGBTI Law". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Star Observer (2 April 2015). "Malta passes law outlawing forced surgical intervention on intersex minors". Star Observer. Archived from the original on 14 August 2015.
  16. ^ OII Europe (1 April 2015). "OII-Europe applauds Malta's Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act. This is a landmark case for intersex rights within European law reform". Archived from the original on 22 May 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  17. ^ Carpenter, Morgan (2 April 2015). "We celebrate Maltese protections for intersex people". Organisation Intersex International Australia. Archived from the original on 4 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  18. ^ Transgender Europe (1 April 2015). Malta Adopts Ground-breaking Trans and Intersex Law – TGEU Press Release. Archived from the original on 3 November 2016.
  19. ^ Ministry for Education and Employment (June 2015), Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students in Schools: Policy (PDF), Ministry for Education and Employment, archived (PDF) from the original on 14 April 2016
  20. ^ Pace, Yannick (5 September 2017). "Malta introduces 'X' marker on passports, ID cards and work permits". Malta Today. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  21. ^ Sansone, Kurt (23 January 2018). "Malta releases first passport with neutral 'X' gender marker". Malta Today. Archived from the original on 14 April 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  22. ^ Diacono, Tim (23 January 2018). "Malta Officially Has Its First Gender-Neutral Citizen". Lovin Malta. Archived from the original on 14 April 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Malta has its first officially gender-neutral citizen". Xinhua News Agency. China Internet Information Center. 23 January 2018. Archived from the original on 14 April 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  24. ^ "L.N. 212 of 2017 Marriage Act and other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act No. XXIII of 2017), Commencement Notice". Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government of Malta. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  25. ^ Sansone, Kurt (29 August 2017). "Same sex couples can marry as from Friday". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.

Bibliography[edit]