Thursday, June 6, 2013, 07:06
The government will present a Bill on civil unions in parliament after the summer recess, civil rights minister Helena Dalli has announced.
The government, she said, was also working on the provision of more childcare service in line with electoral commitments.
Speaking at a dialogue meeting, she said the government was also making LGBT issues a priority. She stressed, however, that changes in the law do not mean life would automatically get easier for such people and it was important to raise awareness.
The minister was replying to comments on LGBT issues by Albert Gauci Cunningham from the floor, who referred to a project by the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality which promotes equal rights in school materials among others.
Dr Dalli said teachers should take advantage of the current situation and use books perpetuating societal stereotypes to question whether they reflected society and ask their students if they knew of different family units, like single-parent families, gay couples and transgender people.
"We have a lot to work on when it comes to people's attitudes. It doesn't mean that just by passing a law, life automatically gets easier for transgender people," she said, referring to surveys showing that LGBT and transgender people are bullied at school.
At the moment parliament is discussing amendments to the Civil Code that would ensure that people who underwent gender reassignment surgery were recognised according to their acquired gender.
In the meantime the ministry is also holding discussions about the civil union law and the gender identity act.
Referring to Joanne Cassar's "martyrdom" after the previous government refrained from changing the law to recognise her as a woman following surgery, Ms Dalli said the new government has even won over the opposition. She noted that shadow minister Claudette Buttigieg's first words about the issue, following the Minister's presentation of the amendments in parliament, had been dedicated to Ms Cassar.
Anthony Licari, a lecturer at the University of Malta and the Institute for Tourism Studies noted that as public transport consumers, tourists should be considered like Maltese customers, and pay the same fee.
While agreeing from a consumer's perspective that everyone should be treated equally, Ms Dalli said this issue fell under the remit of the Transport Ministry.
Addressing another question about the subject, dR Dalli added that an operational review of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority is also underway and this audit will define the road forward, with consumers topping the priority list. The audit will be completed in six weeks time.