Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Malta Today: Government to propose Gender Identity Bill

Marking the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, government reflects on Malta’s inroads in civil liberties landscape.
16 May 2014, 6:33pm by Daniel Mizzi

After Malta moved up 22 percentage points in the Rainbow Europe Index, the government has announced that it will soon be proposing a Gender Identity Bill, and that it would explore other legislative initiatives.

Since May 2013, Malta was the ‘fastest climber’ in the Rainbow Europe Index – Europe’s score on LGBTI human rights – moving up 22 percentage points in the European rankings.

Outlining Malta’s inroads in the civil liberties landscape, the government pinpointed the introduction of civil unions and adoption rights for gay couples as one of its main accomplishments towards securing gender equality in Malta.

Nevertheless, the government has insisted that it must continue its fight to eradicate homophobia and transphobia.

The Rainbow Europe Index has showed that where legal protection of the human rights of LGBTI people is concerned, there is gradual progress in many European countries. However, Europe as a whole is far from guaranteeing full respect of LGBTI people’s human rights.

Indeed, the Rainbow Europe Map 2014 shows that the European average on the measure of legal protection is still very low – only 36%. The average for EU countries (46%) does not even reach the half-way mark. This said, the gaps between European countries remains enormous and ranges between the top score of 82% (UK) and the bottom score of 6% (Russia). Most worryingly, 34 out of 49 European countries (including 14 EU Member States) are below 50% mark.

Marking the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia – which will be celebrated tomorrow – the government explained that during the past year, it set up the LGBTI Consultative council, and that it was proactive on LGBTI issues.

In addition, the government and the PN opposition unilaterally approved that the constitution be amended to protect anyone from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This constitutional amendment made Malta the first country in the world to have express protection on the ground of gender identity in its Constitution.

Reflecting on Malta’s score in the Rainbow Europe Index Paulo Côrte-Real, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said, that it is very encouraging to see countries like Malta and Montenegro – who moved up 20 percentage points in the European rankings – make such inroads in a year.

“It shows that so much is possible when there is political leadership, especially when it is coupled with meaningful entitlement of civil society,” he said.

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