Sunday, 3 March 2013

Malta Today: Greens - Gonzi caught up in betrayal of trans persons’ rights

While government fights Joanne Cassar's claim in Strasbourg to have full rights as woman, Gonzi says next PN government will introduce gender recognition law.
Friday 1 March 2013 - 10:18 by Matthew Vella

Joanne Cassar has spent years in courts fighting for her legal rights to be recognised as a woman with the right to marry.

Alternattiva Demokratika, the Green Party, has called on the Maltese government to remove its submissions to the European Court of Human Rights in a petition filed by Joanne Cassar to be recognised as a woman with full rights.

Cassar, a transgender person who has been fighting for her right to get married since 2006, took her case to the European Court, asking for an effective remedy after a Constitutional Court in Malta ruled that a ban on transgender marriage violated the right to marry.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi stated that the PN would introduce gender recognition legislation for transgender persons during the next legislature should it be re-elected in government, in reply to a question from a member of the audience at an evening rally.

He also stated that the reason for which parliament never discussed the transgender recognition private members bill was lack of time.

AD said that on the one hand the PN government is actively fighting against trans rights, and on the other it was asking trans people to vote for it party during the coming election.

AD also called on the Maltese government to withdraw its submissions against Joanne Cassar with immediate effect, and remove the legal obstacles against her ability to marry right away.

AD chairperson Michael Briguglio said: "Not only did the government fail to progress the legislation that was tabled through a private member's bill; but it actually fought Joanne Cassar tooth and nail all the way to the Constitutional Court to deny her the fundamental right to marry her male partner. This in spite of clear European Court of Human Rights case-law dating back to 2002 which Malta is obliged to respect."

AD candidate Silvan Agius said the Maltese government was challenging the Goodwin & I v. UK judgement through which the court had extended the right to marry to trans persons. "In its submission the Maltese government is claimed that Joanne's birth certificate was only altered to allow her to preserve her privacy, but that the Maltese government continues to regard her as a man in line with the natal sex under which she was recorded."

Briguglio said AD will table legislation ensuring the recognition of trans people's gender without unnecessary delays or invasion of privacy, "living up to the human rights standards of the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, and MGRM's call for transgender equality."

In the case filed before the Constitutional Court, the Attorney General had argued that the European Convention did not guarantee the right for one to have a family, but assumed the existence of a family. Cassar however argued that the state had already recognised the legal effects of her operation, and therefore it was illogical for the state to refuse the legal implications of her gender.

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