Thursday, 30 May 2013

Malta Today: Malta ranks 18th in European ‘rainbow map’ of gay rights

Rainbow Europe map published by the International Lesbian Gay Association, sees the UK topping the scoreboard with 77%
Thursday 16 May 2013 - 18:45 by James Debono

Malta stands in 18th place in a ranking of 49 European countries indexed by ILGA-Europe in its 'Rainbow map', which assesses the laws of each country which impact on the LBGTI community.

The Rainbow Europe map, published today by the International Lesbian Gay Association, sees the UK topping the scoreboard with 77% on a checklist of laws that include rules on non-discrimination, gender recognition and hate speech. Next in line are Belgium (67), Sweden, Spain, Portugal (65%) and France with 64 percent.

With a score of 35% Malta is surpassed by most western European countries and is one point below Catholic Ireland which only lifted the ban on homosexuality in 1993, two decades after Malta. Malta is also surpassed by Albania.

But Malta registers a higher score than Italy, Luxembourg, Greece and a number of Eastern European countries. At 7% Russia emerges as the least gay friendly country in Europe.

Malta's major shortcomings are registered in the sphere of family rights where Malta still grants any form of recognition to same sex couples and does not permit assisted insemination to both singles or same sex couples. In fact in this category Malta fails on all 10 counts assessed in the index.

According to ILGA's annual report in the past year, Malta enhanced its protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity through the inclusion legislation on hate crime and hate speech and the extension of the remit of the national equality body to cover both grounds.

Former Social Policy Minister Chris Said in his brief tenure in office implemented both measures. However, the report notes that Malta failed to extend equality in the area of partnership and parenting.

The report singles out the Embryo Protection Act expressly, which excludes lesbian couples and single women from access to fertility treatment.

The report notes that the cohabitation bill proposed by the previous government while open to same-sex partners, was greatly criticized by LGBTI civil society due to its weak set of rights, and its disregard of same-sex partners' family life. The newly elected Labour government is committed to introduce civil unions and has appointed a commission involving local LBGT movements to draft the new law.

Rainbow Europe Map - May 2013 by maltatoday

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