January 21, 2003 - Malta Media News
New premises for Malta Gay Rights Movement
The Malta Gay Rights Movement, an active socio-political, non-profit making, movement with the challenges and rights of the local gay and lesbian communit at its central focus, has finally acquired its own premises in Mosta. MGRM said these premises will serve as a base for the coordination of our educational, political lobbying and support initiatives. Their acquisition has also made it possible for us to start translating our dream of setting up a professional national gay helpline and a number of support groups into a concrete reality.
Since it was set up in June 2001, the MGRM has worked incessantly to alleviate the silent suffering of thousands of young gay men and lesbians, to promote anti-discrimination legislation, to challenge antiquated misconceptions on homosexuality, and to build a gay-straight alliance, to instill more unity and a sense of identity among the local gay community. It has also made its presence felt on the continent, through its affiliation in the International Lesbian and Gay Association and its participation in several regional conferences.
In all its endeavours, the MGRM does not receive any funds whatsoever from the Community Chest Fund, L-Istrina, or from fund-raising marathons organised by the political parties. That's because it says it has to turn to personal pockets and to the generosity of all those who believe that our society can only benefit through the celebration of the diversity that exists within it. MGRM said it needs help to start furnishing the place. Any loose furniture, carpets, stationery items, paper, a fax machine, maybe a computer which supports Internet. .
MGRM can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 9925 5559.
February 16, 2003 - The Malta Independent, St Julians, Malta
Gay Rights Movement deplores billboard at Naxxar MLP Club
by Massimo FarrugiaThe Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) has criticised a billboard hung outside the Malta Labour Party club in Naxxar. The billboard reads "The European Union believes in abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage." The movement said it is unfair to use gay rights as an argument against Malta's accession to the European Union. The Gay Rights Movement said the poster in question unjustly associated gay rights with the fundamental human right to life when it put the same-sex marriage issue on the same level as abortion and euthanasia. The billboard, which was not even written in correct Maltese, was removed yesterday afternoon after the central administration of the Labour Party was informed about the content of the billboard.
The European Union is the most progressive organisation as far as human rights and minority rights go, the MGRM said. However, it is not true that the European Union obliges its members to legalise same-sex marriages. The EU obliges Member States to remove discriminatory laws regarding a person's sexual orientations. In this regard, the MGRM also criticised the Maltese government for having failed to make the necessary legal amendments against sexual discrimination at workplaces.
12 May 2003 - The Independent, St Julians, Malta
Seminar on gay rights in EU accession countries
Malta Gay Rights Movement Coordinator Sandro Mangion and International Officer Christian Attard have participated in a seminar on gay and lesbian rights in EU accession countries, which was held in Brussels. Representatives from Malta, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic exchanged information and views at the seminar, at which representatives of the European Parliament, the International Lesbian and Gay Association's European branch (ILGA-Europe, of which the MGRM is an active member) were also present.
The Maltese representatives raised the issue of the inadequate implementation of EU Directive 2000/78 EC in Malta. This directive requires that national legislation be put in place with a view to eliminating discrimination and harassment at the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation. So far, the Maltese government has shown itself unwilling to adequately implement this directive, in spite of clear statements from the European Commission that it is an integral part of the acquis communautaire and consequently must be implemented prior to accession. The seminar was organised by the Belgian Lesbian and Gay Movement as part of their annual Rainbow Week, the climax of which was the Belgian Pride.
Mr Mangion and Mr Attard represented Malta at this event, which drew around 10,000 participants.
April 5, 2003 - Malta Media
Gay Rights Movement reacts to parties' proposals
The Malta Gay Rights Movement thanked the Malta Labour Party and Alternattiva Demokratika for including its proposals in their electoral programmes. MGRM however showed its dismay at the fact that the Nationalist Party declined to meet Movement's officials because "the time is not yet ripe for such a meeting according to the PN". The Movement also noted that the PN manifesto is vague in its proposals and makes no reference in safeguarding the rights of minorities.
22 May, 2003 - Malta Media
AD (Green Party) calls for full implimenetation of EU anti-discrimination directive
Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party is calling on the government to fully implement EU Directive 2000/78 EC. This directive requires that national legislation be put in place with a view to eliminating discrimination and harassment at the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Green Party's spokesperson for civil rights James Debono expressed AD's support for the Malta Gay Rights Movement which is calling for the full implementation of this EU directive and said, "Maltese Gays and lesbians should be fully protected from discrimination and harassment at the workplace. One of the major reasons why AD supports EU membership is the strengthening of civil rights in Malta. Maltese citizens should enjoy the same civil rights enjoyed by other European Union citizens. AD wants Malta to be really European and modern".
Debono added "it is a shame that the government is unwilling to adequately implement this directive, in spite of clear statements from the European Commission that it is an integral part of the aquis communautaire and therefore it be implemented prior to accession".
May 11, 2003 - The Independent, St Julians, Malta
EU presses government to outlaw discrimination against gays
by Karl SchembriThe EU Commission is pressing the government to ban discrimination at the place of work on the grounds of sexual orientation in line with union directives. Although Maltese labour laws ban discrimination in principle, EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC identifies gays and lesbians as being at a higher risk of being discriminated against in the work place and grants them special protection. The same directive prohibits discrimination on grounds of age, disability, race, and religion or belief.
"I confirm there is a need to have all grounds covered by the directive to be spelt out specifically in Maltese law," said the head of the European Commission Employment and Social Affairs Directorate General, Odile Quintin, last Thursday. This means that Maltese law should specifically ban discrimination and harassment at the place of work directed at gays and lesbians.
Moreover, the directive refers to trade unions and professional associations, obliging them not to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Ms Quintin was in Malta last week to review the progress made by the Maltese government in adopting the social and employment regulations of the EU prior to accession. In a joint press conference held last Thursday together with Social Policy Minister Lawrence Gonzi, Ms Quintin made it clear that the Commission expected the Maltese government to adopt the EU directive in its entirety.
But the Maltese government is refusing to adopt the full directive, arguing that existing legislation is enough to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians at the place of work. "All forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation or on age, ethnic origin or racial grounds are illegal and the interpretation given by the Attorney General of the law that has been passed in Parliament is that the clause as drafted covers all these areas," Dr Gonzi said. "The issue that has been discussed is whether we need to mention these areas specifically.
The opinion of legal experts given to us here in Malta is that we do not need to be specific, the clause mentions some areas as examples but it does not exclude all the other areas. We've agreed to go into this issue and get the legal advice more substantiated so that everybody can be sure that the judgements given by our Constitutional Court in previous cases substantiate this interpretation." Ms Quintin insisted: "For me it's legal certainty. As the directive is spelling out a series of grounds, we feel that these grounds have to be very clearly specified in Maltese laws."
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) has been lobbying for the last year and a half to get labour laws amended in line with EU directives. The movement points at the Employment and Industrial Relations Act and the Equality Between Men and Women Act, enacted in Parliament over the last six months: both of them fail to adopt the EU directive. Discrimination and harassment at work on grounds of sexual orientation is a hidden problem, claims MGRM. According to a survey it conducted last year, 40 per cent of gay and lesbian respondents said they were harassed at work, while many others were ashamed to speak out about discrimination. EU legislation would shift the burden of proof on the employers.
In other words, in proceedings for breaches of the principle of equal treatment which are not criminal in nature, once it is established there is evidence that such breach did take place, it is up to the employer to prove that no discrimination took place. MGRM brought up the issue in a seminar on gay and lesbian rights in EU accession countries held in Brussels earlier this month. "The Maltese government has shown itself to be unwilling to adequately implement this directive, in spite of clear statements from the European Commission that it is an integral part of the acquis communautaire," said MGRM international secretary Christian Attard. "Consequently, it must be implemented prior to accession."
June 29, 2003 - The Malta Independent, St Julians, Malta
Gays urge government to implement EU directive
by Daniela Xuereb
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) has urged the government to implement the EU Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC which among other principles lists that of equal treatment in employment and training irrespective of religion, belief, sexual orientation and age. Speaking at a press conference yesterday at St James Cavalier, the Centre for Creativity, to mark the launch of MGRM's DiversCity Week of activities next month, Sandro Mangion, the organisation's co-ordinator said the MGRM will insist on the EU directive being implemented in Malta. The European Commission for Employment and Social Affairs recently launched a massive EU anti-discrimination campaign which could end up an embarrassing exercise for the Maltese government unless it adopts fair treatment laws by next year.
The campaign is mainly meant to put pressure on European governments to implement two important EU equality directives. These are the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive. On both counts the Maltese government is still lagging behind, according to the Commission. The directive contains definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and it also shifts the burden of proof between the complainant and the perpetrator in civil and administrative cases.
But the Maltese government is refusing to adopt the full directive, arguing that existing legislation is enough to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians at the place of work. "This year's theme for the DiversCity Week 2003 is 'Out and Proud'. Many gay persons live a life of solitude because they are ashamed to 'come out,'" said Mr Mangion. "We want a community which appreciates the value of diversity."
For the past two years the MGRM have fought for gay rights and last year released results of a study carried out among the gay community in Malta. Results indicated that 50 per cent of respondents reported they had been harassed at some point in their life because they were gay. Others, around 11 per cent, were subjected to violence. In order to help gay persons accept their situation the MGRM will soon launch a help line. "Many gay people suffer immense loneliness particularly after 'coming out' and because of problems related to the stigma attached to homosexuality.
The help line will be there to listen to them and give them any help or advice they might need," said Diane Xuereb the co-ordinator of the help line. The MGRM's DiversCity week will run between 5 and 13 July. Activities include a film festival in collaboration with the British Council, a Forum Theatre, an exhibition depicting homosexuality through the ages, a festival and finally a Pride Party. MGRM's events are being held in collaboration with St James Cavalier, General Soft Drinks Limits, the British Council, the Malta Photographic Society and the Valletta Local Council.
The Malta Independent, St Julians, Malta
Government outlaws discrimination against gays
by Karl SchembriThe government has given in to pressure from the European Union and the Maltese gay community to outlaw discrimination at the place of work against gays and lesbians, in line with EU directives. Legal notice 297 published last Tuesday in the Government Gazette specifically bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as religion or belief, disability, age, race and ethnic origin. Published as subsidiary legislation to the existing labour laws (Employment and Industrial Relations Act, 2002), the new legal notice marks a first in Maltese legislation when it comes to specifically banning discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The legal notice states: "In determining whether any treatment is treatment that is justified in a democratic society, the Industrial Tribunal shall take into account the provisions of any directive and, or regulation issued by the institutions of the European Union relating to discrimination and particularly Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29th June 2000 and Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27th November 2000 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation, race or ethnic origin."
The Malta Gay Rights Movement received the news of the legal notice with satisfaction, and hope for more progressive legislation safeguarding gay rights. "We're happy with this positive development," said MGRM co-ordinator Sandro Mangion. "It's a step in the right direction." The MGRM has been insisting that the government get labour laws amended in line with EU directives for the last two years. Although last Tuesday's amendment is considered to be "subsidiary legislation" given that the text has not been inserted directly into the actual employment law, it is still useful for gay victims of discrimination at the place of work.
"Although the government has not transposed the EU directive in the Employment and Industrial Relations Act, one can still cite this legal notice in an industrial tribunal," Mr Mangion said. "The only problem is that a minister has the power to revoke this legal notice at will. But it's good to see that our lobbying and the European Commission's pressure had the desired effect." Pressure from the European Commission was made public last May by the commission's Employment and Social Affairs Director General, Odile Quintin, during a visit to Malta to monitor the progress made by the government in adopting the EU's social and employment regulations prior to accession.
"I confirm there is a need to have all grounds covered by the directive to be spelt out specifically in Maltese law," Ms Quintin said in a press conference. Although Maltese labour laws ban discrimination in principle, EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC identifies gays and lesbians as being more likely of being discriminated against at the work place and grants them special protection. Ms Quintin's warnings were swiftly followed by an unequivocal statement by Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen following a query by British Labour MEP Michael Cashman, a declared gay and supporter of MGRM.
"In Malta, the recently adopted Employment and Industrial Relations Act did not fully transpose the Directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation," Mr Verheugen said. "Gaps remain concerning the coverage of all the grounds of discrimination (age, sexual orientation), the burden of proof and the definition of direct and indirect discrimination." The Commissioner added that there was therefore a clear need in Malta "to reinforce the legal framework in order to fully transpose the requirements of the anti-discrimination acquis". He also assured Mr Cashman that the Commission would "make use of all the instruments at our disposal to ensure that the acquis in this area is fully transposed by accession".
The Maltese government had resisted mounting pressure to introduce new regulations prior to EU accession on the grounds that existing legislation was enough to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians. "The opinion by the legal experts given to us here in Malta is that we do not need to be specific," Social Policy Minister Lawrence Gonzi said last May. Now that the government seems to have backtracked on its position, the new legal notice means that Maltese law specifically bans discrimination against gays and lesbians at work although harassment against them is still not specifically outlawed.
"The Maltese government, specifically the Deputy Prime Minister, has stressed the point that the Employment and Industrial Relations Act was always intended to cover all 'discriminatory treatment'," said Parliamentary Secretary Dolores Cristina. "In fact, the Employment and Industrial Relations Act states that 'discriminatory treatment' means any distinction, exclusion or restriction which is not justifiable in a democratic society. However, given that some questions were raised regarding the interpretation of this definition and whether this definition meets the requirements of EU directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC,
Legal Notice 297 makes specific reference to this directive to clear any difficulties that could have arisen in the interpretation of the definition quoted above." Ms Cristina said that harassment against gays and lesbians is already covered by labour laws and by the Equality for Men and Women Act. However there is still no specific mention of sexual orientation.
The Minister's communications coordinator, Alan Camilleri, said the government did not backtrack because it still resisted transposing the directive in "primary legislation". Be that as it may, MGRM considers this to be a victory although it is cautiously optimistic about pending issues. One of them is harassment of gays and lesbians at the work place, which is still not catered for specifically in the labour laws. According to an MGRM survey commissioned last year, 40 per cent of Maltese gays and lesbians said they were harassed at work, while many others admitted they were ashamed to speak out about discrimination.
2 May 2005 - di-ve news
Gay movement protests as MCC refuses to accept application for transsexual beauty contest
Valletta, Malta - The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) has protested at the manner the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) has refused an application to hold a beauty contest for transsexual contestants there. It asked the Tourism and Culture Minister Francis Zammit Dimech whether he approves of the way the matter was handled by the MCC chairman, Peter Fenech. According to the movement, Dr Fenech declined for several times to give both the organisers and MGRM any details why the MCC refused the application six months ago.
MCC is bound to deal with proposals transparently, the movement argued. If the Mediterranean Conference Centre does have clear criteria on which it bases its decisions to accept or refuse applications, it must not keep them secret. MGRM said that such activities offer transsexual persons, in this case male to female, the necessary space to bring out their talents and share them with the public. These individuals are already discriminated against in mainstream beauty contests, in which they are usually rejected by non-transsexual females, the movement stated.
19 December 2006 - Malta Star
Malta with lowest support for gay adoption
Almost one of every five Maltese persons are in favour of gay marriages, but only 7 per cent agree that homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children. Only 7 per cent of Maltese respondents to the latest Eurobarometer survey agreed that homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children, putting Malta at par with Poland as the EU members that least support gay adoption.
This is much less than the average for all EU citizens, which currently stands at 32 per cent. But the Maltese are much less conservative when it comes to gay marriage. In the preliminary report of EU’s public opinion study for Autumn 2006, 18 per cent of Maltese questioned answered that they are in favour of allowing homosexual couples to get married. But once again, this level of acceptance is much lower than the EU’s 44 per cent average.
Homosexual rights is one of the new issues that the latest Eurobarometer report analysed in a new section on values that are currently hot issues in various member states. It also questioned whether the personal consumption of cannabis should be legalised throughout Europe, and over one of every five Maltese citizens (21%) answered “yes”.
The study also sought the opinion of Maltese on the role of religion in society and 70 per cent agreed that “the place of religion in our society is too important”. What justice? The same study also looked at immigration. When presented with the statement “Immigrants contribute a lot to Malta”, only 21 per cent agreed.
The majority of the local respondents expressed their concern on the lack of justice in Malta. 71 per cent agreed that “we need more equality and justice, even if this means less freedom for the individual”, while 81 per cent agreed that “justice is considered as too tolerant nowadays”.
On a political level, 55 per cent of Maltese agreed that the EU should have a common foreign policy, while 64 per cent were in favour of a common defence and security policy. The study also shows that Europeans rank peace (52%), respect for human life (43%), and human rights (41%) as their most important personal values.
16 February 2007 - PinkNews
Malta transsexual given permission to marry
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
A judge in Malta has ordered government officials to issue the appropriate documentation to permit 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 decision, taken yesterday, confirmed that as the woman had undergone gender reassignment surgery, her birth certificate should be changed to reflect her sex as legally female.
Mr. Justice Camilleri has now ordered the director of Public Registry to issue marriage banns and change the name and sex on her birth certificate, di-ve news reports. The judge also pointed out that nothing in the country's marriage laws would prevent someone who is legally a woman from marrying a man just because of her former gender.
Malta is one of the most socially conservative countries in the EU. 98% of the population are Roman Catholics, and although homosexuality is legal, there remains significant prejudice.The Mediterranean island, a British colony until 1964, has around 400,000 inhabitants and is the smallest EU state in terms of both size and population.
In 2000 the government were criticised by gay rights groups for openly homophobic statements criticising EU proposals to treat gay people equally. Only 18% of the population support gay marriage, a December Eurobarometer survey found.
9 March 2007 - PinkNews
Malta delays transsexual's wedding 3/07
by Rachel Charman
The Maltese Director of Public Registry is continuing to resist the release of marriage banns for a transsexual woman and her male partner. Mr Justice Gino Camilleri ordered the director, Anthony Geraldi, to issue the banns on 12th February, on the grounds that the union between the transsexual and her partner did not conflict with any part of the Marriage Act, as she has now become a woman. But a week later, Geraldi requested a reversal of the court decree, claiming that the change in the Act of Birth of the transsexual that allows a change of name and gender was only to protect her privacy. This, he believes, does not mean that she can now be considered a woman in legal terms as her surgery was cosmetic.
On 1st March the transsexual's lawyers insisted that they arrange an appointment for their client to apply for the banns to be issued, forcing the registry to set a date for 7th March. Geraldi then filed an urgent application, requesting authorisation not to issue the banns until the original application was decided on. He said that if this application forced him to issue the banns, the requests made in the original application would be "irremediably prejudiced," according to TimesOfMalta.com.
Mr. Justice Micallef ruled that the application would be upheld and the marriage banns were not to be issued for the next 40 days to ensure that the interests of both the transsexual and Geraldi are not compromised. Geraldi's resistance to the marriage is not without popular support. Only 18% of the Maltese population support gay marriage, a December Eurobarometer survey found, and there is significant prejudice against the LGBT community.
In parliament too there is debate over the issue. In reply to a parliamentary question on 26th February, Home Affairs Minister Tonio Borg told Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi that he believes there is no doubt that the Marriage Act was clear that a marriage should take place between a man and a woman.
Malta is one of the most socially conservative countries in the EU.98% of the population are Roman Catholics, and although homosexuality is legal, there remains significant prejudice. The Mediterranean island, a British colony until 1964, has around 400,000 inhabitants and is the smallest EU state in terms of both size and population.In 2000 the government were criticised by gay rights groups for openly homophobic statements criticising EU proposals to treat gay people equally.
9th November 2007 - PinkNews
Maltese press question MEP over gay club visits
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
A leading newspaper in Malta has questioned the gay-hostile voting record of one of the country's Member of the European Parliament in light of revelations that he is a regular at Brussels gay bars. LGBT activists are angry that David Casa, 38, voted against motions in the parliament that condemned homophobic violence and discrimination.
Newspaper Il Torca reported in September: "Many homosexuals commented with this newspaper that David Casa was seen a number of times in gay clubs in Brussels." Reporters contacted Mr Casa about these allegations and were told that he only goes to gay establishments for "politically-related events."
"Whenever I am invited from groups and organisations who fight discrimination of every kind, yes I attend," he told Il Torca. Malta is one of the most socially conservative countries in the EU. 98% of the population are Roman Catholics, and although homosexuality is legal, there remains significant prejudice. The Mediterranean island, a British colony until 1964, has around 400,000 inhabitants and is the smallest EU state in terms of both size and population.
In 2000 the government were criticised by gay rights groups for openly homophobic statements criticising EU proposals to treat gay people equally. Only 18% of the Maltese population support gay marriage, a December 2006 Eurobarometer survey found, and there is significant prejudice against the LGBT community.