The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and aditus welcome the announcement, reported in the Malta Independent of 02/11/2011 that an amendment to legislation is to be introduced that will eliminate one of the human rights violations currently taking place in respect of transgender persons. This will do away with the current practice of appointing a court expert to verify irreversible sex reassignment.
However, this falls far short of the comprehensive legislative changes required in order to meet current best practice in this field as clearly outlined in the report ‘A Proposed Gender Identity Act for Malta’ presented by MGRM in December 2010. The proposed ‘Gender Identity Act’ which was tabled in parliament by MP Evarist Bartolo has still not yet been put on parliament’s agenda.
The main proposals contained in the MGRM document largely reflect those recommended in a recent study published by the Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg entitled ‘Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Europe’. These include the following:
- Grant legal recognition for the preferred gender of transgender persons and develop expeditious and transparent procedures for changing the name and sex of a transgender person on birth certificates, civil registers, identity cards, passports, educational certificates and other similar documents;
- Abolish sterilisation and other compulsory medical treatment which may seriously impair the autonomy, health or well-being of the individual, as necessary requirements for the legal recognition of a transgender person’s preferred gender;
- Remove the requirement of being unmarried, or divorce for already married persons, as a necessary condition for the legal recognition of a transgender person’s preferred gender;
- Respect the right of transgender persons to effectively exercise their right to marry in accordance with their legally recognised gender;
- Review any requirements of a diagnosis of mental disorder for accessing transgender health care in view of eliminating obstacles to the effective enjoyment, by transgender persons, of the rights to self-determination and the highest attainable standard of health;
- Make sex reassignment procedures, such as hormone treatment, surgery and psychological support, accessible to transgender persons subject to informed consent and ensure that they are reimbursed by health insurance in acknowledgement of their life-saving potential.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement and aditus therefore urge the Minister for Justice to take the current proposal tabled by MP Evarist Bartolo as the basis for the development of any legislative change as this meets the human rights standards as understood in the Yogyakarta Principles and the Hammarberg paper. Additionally, any amendments to the proposed bill should be discussed with MGRM and aditus as the sole credible interlocutors for trans people.