Friday, 24 December 2010

Times: Transgender's right-to-marry appeal 'waste of people's money'
Thursday, 23rd December 2010 by Juan Ameen

The Attorney General's appeal against a judgment allowing people who changed their sex to marry "is a waste of people's money", the gender-reassigned woman behind the landmark legal battle said.

"This is a waste of people's money, of my money, and it is making a mockery of the country and its courts," 29-year-old Joanne Cassar said.

The appeal, filed by the Attorney General and the Marriage Registrar on Friday, asked the Constitutional Court to revoke Ms Cassar's right to marry after a judge ruled in November her gender reassignment surgery should not prejudice her right to have a husband.

The Attorney General argued the court, presided over by Mr Justice Raymond Pace, "completely discarded" the fact that a particular European Convention did not guarantee the right to a family but presumed the presence of a family.

Ms Cassar only changed superficially as she also had male organs, such as the prostate, the Attorney General argued. As a result, under Maltese marriage laws, Ms Cassar could never be considered a woman who could enter into a marriage contract with a man, he added.

However, Ms Cassar said she "expected" the appeal and yesterday filed a reply to it. "I knew it was going to happen. My family and friends threw a party for me when I won the case but I didn't enjoy it to the full."

Hurt but determined, she said she would continue fighting for her rights but the move still dealt a blow to her morale. "I felt my whole world collapse and I spent the whole day crying."

She was also hurt by comments posted by readers on "Stop hurting me, my family and my loved ones. They don't know what they are doing to us."

Her lawyers, Josè Herrera and David Camilleri, lifted her spirits, stressing the November judgment was "fair" and deserved to be confirmed.

"It's my right and it's mine alone and no one would take it away from me," she said.

The case goes back to 2006 when the Marriage Registrar refused an application by Ms Cassar and her partner for wedding banns to be issued even though she had changed her gender to female on her birth certificate.

In February 2007, she won a civil case in which the court ordered the Marriage Registrar to issue the banns. However, in May 2008, the decision was revoked on appeal. The court ruled Ms Cassar could never be considered to be a woman according to the Marriage Act and declared that the change in her birth certificate was only intended to protect the right to privacy and to avoid embarrassment.

Then, in November, she won a human rights case before the First Hall of the Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction.

The Attorney General argued a marriage contract could only take place between two people of the opposite sex who had an opposing anatomical, chromosomal and reproductive system. "Any different interpretation will lead to marriage between two people of the same sex, which is certainly diametrically opposite to the Maltese public order," he said.

The Labour Party and Alternattiva Demokratika yesterday supported Ms Cassar's stand and condemned the decision to appeal.

"I thank them and I'm satisfied they are backing me," Ms Cassar said of the political support.

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

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