Monday, 8 December 2014

Times: Gender identity bill should be guided by ethical principles - Church
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 12:39

The Archbishop's Curia

While the bill on gender identity is a step in the right direction, it is important that it is guided by ethical principles, the Church said in a position paper.

It said that while the bill promoted “an inclusive culture of recognition between human beings” and sought “to address the needs of a category of people who very often find it socially hard and painful in trying to deal with a fundamental dimension of their own self-identity... it is important to recognise the complexity of the problem and be guided by a set of ethical principles”.

This was to strike the right balance between “the rights of the individual and the legitimate interests of the others and the community as a whole”.

In its paper, drawn up by Rev Prof Emmanuel Agius, Dr Nadia Delicata, Rev Prof George Grima, Rev Prof Paul Galea, Rev Dr Ray Zammit, Rev Dr Richard-Nazzareno Farrugia and Rev Anton Borg, the Church outlined four ethical principles, namely human dignity, proportionality, precaution and transparency.

It noted that every citizen, irrespective of nationality, status, sexual orientation, gender, age or achievement, had the right to live in an inclusive culture of recognition between human beings.

It said that the provisions of the proposed legislation should be proportionate to the objective that was being set. In trying to protect its members from unnecessary hardship and pain, a society was truly expressing a human face.

But one was justifiably concerned about legislation that would be making a change in one’s gender practically as simple as a change in one’s identity card. The matter involved a fundamental aspect of individual and social life and an over-simplified solution to a complex problem would trivialize the issues clustering around it.

The church said that prudence and foresight were necessary to avoid drastic consequences on the life of individuals and society given that some of the propositions of the Bill seemed to be complex and far-reaching and had serious anthropological repercussions.

The Bill, it said, calls for a decision-making procedure that was transparent and open to the widest possible public participation. A properly structured consultation process in which civil society was given the opportunity to engage in a fruitful discussion on what was at stake would be a wise way forward.

In its statement the Church referred to three main areas of concern. These were:

a) The Bill’s vague definition of gender identity, leaving its interpretation wide-open. This invariably resulted in a wide arbitrariness in the application of the law and to conflicting interpretations, it said

b) The Bill’s consideration of gender identity as a purely subjective matter left solely to the personal preference of the individual. A necessary distinction had to be made between the real and concrete situation of persons who experienced an interior conflict between their physical sex and their gender identity, and the gender ideology according to which people could freely determine whether they wanted to be male or female and freely choose their sexual orientation arbitrarily; and

c) The best interests of the child were properly guaranteed by the protection of the child’s right to seek and receive information, regardless of frontiers. This, the Church said, should include mandatory counselling to provide the opportunity to better understand one’s sexual orientation and identity, which would promote the child’s social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.

The Church's position paper may be read in the pdf link below [here].

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