Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Times: Marriage allowed after gender reassessment
Tuesday, 30th November 2010 - 12:10CET

Joanne Cassar won her right to marry a man today after having undergone gender reassessment surgery.

Ms Cassar had previously still been considered as being a man by the state, but the Constitutional Court this morning cleared the way for her to marry her fiance.

The court based its sentence on caselaw of the European Court of Human Rights which had found in a UK case, that a a ban on trans-gender marriage was illegal.

In her court application, Ms Cassar explained that she was born a male in September 1981. Ever since she was a child she felt she was female. As she grew up older, she decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery to solve the internal conflict she had. After surgery, she filed an application calling on the courts to change the gender annotation on her birth certificate to female. In June 2006 the court upheld her request.

Ms Cassar said that subsequently she applied to the Marriage Registry to issue the wedding banns as she wanted to marry her partner. But the director of the Public Registry refused to issue the banns sparking off her legal battle for the right to marry.

The first court had turned down her request, saying that despite the fact that Ms Cassar was registered as a woman, it believed she was essentially still a man and the Marriage Act did not allow a union between two men. The court ruled that her gender had been changed on the birth certificate to safeguard her privacy and did not give her the rights of a "female" in light of the Marriage Act.

In her constitutional application, Ms Cassar argued that the law as interpreted by the Maltese courts went against a judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights. Quoting case law, she submitted that "there have been major social changes in the institution of marriage since the adoption of the (European) Convention as well as dramatic changes bought about by developments in medicine and science in the field of transsexuality..."

The condition of gender identity disorder, which Ms Cassar suffered from, has been accepted by medical authorities and one could not ignore the post-operative gender for the purposes of law.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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