Annual Review 2011
Bias motivated speech
In March, during information seminars on the Employee Support Programme for Public Employees (ESP), Joe Mizzi, a Catholic priest and Director of the Cana Movement, made a presentation in which he referred to homosexuality as a social problem and sexual dysfunction. In his powerpoint presentation, he listed homosexuality as an example of a sexual problem for which counselling could be sought. A complaint was lodged with the ESP by two lesbian participants who had attended Mizzi’s seminars. They received an official reply assuring them that remedial action had been taken, including the requirement that Mr Mizzi issue and circulate a public declaration; that the ESP could be accessed without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and that LGB employees were not discouraged from seeking assistance. As required by the ESP, Mr Mizzi issued a declaration in which he apologised for any off ence caused and stated that the reference to homosexuality made in the slide had been removed. According to him, his comments were not “directed to imply that homosexuality is a social and sexual problem in itself, but individuals going through the process of defining their sexual orientation may benefit from counselling sessions to assist them in dealing with personal issues that may be raised as a result.” The Cana Movement is one of various partner organisations providing services as part of the ESP.
Bias motivated violence
In December, the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs announced that the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity would be introduced in hate crime legislation. By the end of 2011 no bill had as yet been tabled.
In December, the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) launched Think Before You Speak: Making Life Better for LGBT Youth, a project which aims to address the difficulties encountered by LGBTQ youth related to the recognition of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The project involves distributing messages and materials to schools, youth groups, parents and via the Internet, with guidance on how to use the resources in classes, meetings or youth groups. It includes videos, posters and postcards on homophobic and transphobic bullying, the prevention of self-harm and suicide among LGBTQ youth and a message to / from parents of LGBTQ youth.
Equality and non-discrimination
In 2010, Minister for Family and Social Solidarity Dolores Christina had announced that the remit of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality was going to be extended to cover other grounds including sexual orientation. No developments in this regard had been recorded by the end of 2011.
- In May, the Constitutional Court held that a marriage registrar who had refused to allow a trans woman to marry had correctly interpreted the law. The Court affirmed that there had been breaches of Articles 8 and 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms because Malta does not allow for the woman’s acquired gender to be recognised for all intents and purposes in law. Nonetheless the Court held that the marriage registrar was correct in refusing to allow the marriage as there is no legal provision for someone in this woman’s position to enter “a life partnership” (an institution that does not exist in Maltese law). Parliament could change the law to remedy the situation, but the Court did not instruct the Parliament to do so in order to remedy the breach. A case against Malta on this matter has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights (Cassar v. Malta).
- The Government amended Maltese legislation to correctly refl ect the requirements of the EU’s Freedom of Movement Directive (2004/38/EC) following infringement proceedings by the European Commission in August. Under the amendment, entry should now be facilitated for EU nationals who are in a relationship with a third country national of the same sex, wishing to move to and reside in Malta. Being married or in a registered partnership should automatically qualify as a “durable relationship duly attested” for the purposes of the Directive. Where no such formalisation of the relationship exists, other proof might be requested by the local authorities. The amendment does not extend to third country nationals who are in a relationship with a Maltese citizen.
- In November, the government said that a cohabitation bill would be forthcoming and it would include provisions for same-sex couples. By the end of 2011 no bill had as yet been tabled.
Freedom of expression
According to communications with the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) in May, websites in Malta which are categorised as LGBT form part of the Adult Content Government Internet Package and as a result are not freely available to all. Due to this classification amongst others, the ILGA-Europe website is blocked, as are most other LGBT labelled sites, although the MGRM site is now available.
In April, in reply to a Parliamentary question, the Health Minister confi rmed that there are no public sector facilities in Malta for gender reassignment surgery and that there are no plans to provide such services. Currently, private clinics or hospitals provide certain procedures including hormone therapy, mastectomy¸ hysterectomy, breast implants and hair removal but the cost is borne by the patient. Other transition related surgeries need to be undertaken abroad, and are currently not publicly funded.
Legal gender recognition
In January, Members of Parliament received a draft Gender Identity Act written by the Malta Gay Rights Movement which had been tabled in Parliament by MP Evarist Bartolo on 10 December 2010. Since then the bill has not advanced and was not put on the Parliament’s agenda for discussion.