Hey all! Hope everyone is safe! This week I am going to talk about a topic close to my heart: human rights and the LGBTIQ+ community. I enjoy reading and informing myself regarding these topics, and since I am part of the community, I also have my personal experience to share. That is why I would like to share it with you all! Hope you enjoy it!
So first off…what does LGBTIQ+ stand for?
L is for lesbian, G is for gay, B is for bisexual, T is for Transgender, I is for Intersex, Q is for Queer or Questioning and the ‘+’ represents the rest of the community.
Around the world, the LGBTIQ+ community continues to face violence, legal discrimination and other human rights abuses on bases of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and/or sex characteristics. Many LGBTIQ+ people cannot fully enjoy their universal human rights. They have a higher risk of becoming victims of hate crime, torture, killing and executions, arrests under unjust laws, unequal treatment, censorship, medical abuses, discrimination in health and jobs and housing, domestic violence, abuses against children, and denial of family rights and recognition. 76 countries in the world still have same-sex criminalization. Six countries still have the death penalty for same-sex relationships.
Sometimes I think to myself: “is it that hard to just love one another and accept everyone as they are?” As some of you may know, I am transgender who identifies as non-binary. Growing up, I suffered serious bullying and was also sometimes harassed in public places…for just being myself or for holding hands with the person I love. It affected me psychologically, and because of this I had to seek support in therapy.
When I was younger, I used to think that I was abnormal. I felt that I did not fit in and that I was different from my friends. It was a long process for me to finally came out, during which I lost friends and even some family members.
However, I gained a lot. I found strength within myself and I started growing as this happy teenager who is finally being themselves. I made new friends who understood me. It is still not that easy. I still get called names and receive bad looks when I am out in public but, thankfully, I am constantly finding support from my friends and family.
That’s why I decided to interview my friends and share with you some thoughts on what it is like to be friends with a non-binary person.
LGBTIQ+ in Malta
In Malta we made great strides in this regard. We are one of the safest countries in the world for the LGBTIQ+ community. Malta also reached some big milestones…
In 2004 the first LGBTIQ+ Pride March was held. In 2012 Joanne Cassar, a trans woman, challenged Malta before the European Court of Human Rights demanding full legal recognition of her gender, for which aditus foundation presented a joint statement with MGRM. Just a year later, an LGBTIQ+ Consultative Council was launched within Government, and aditus remains part of it. In April of 2014 the Civil Unions Act was adopted and the first Civil Union was celebrated on 13 June. In 2015 the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act was adopted.
Throughout the drafting, negotiation and adoption of both these important laws, aditus foundation worked tirelessly to ensure the highest level of human rights protection for the LGBTIQ+ community.Neil Falzon, aditus foundation Director
Conversion therapy was banned in 2016, with Malta being the first EU Member State to do so! Before the adoption of this law, aditus foundation published a policy paper on the banning of conversion therapies. In 2017 the marriage equality was introduced and in the same year the X Marker on Identity Cards and passports was made possible. Two years ago, a Gender Well-being Clinic opened its doors to offer multi-disciplinary services to transgender individuals.
I am really grateful to be living during this time where I am free to be who I truly am. I am also so grateful for the support that aditus foundation gave me when I was going through the process of changing my name and gender marker on my documents.
If you are reading this and you are going through a hard time, remember you are not alone! Luckily there is a lot of support out there. MGRM has the Rainbow Support Service which offers social work service, consultancy service and a youth group for ages between 13 and 18. aditus foundation has a Pro Bono Unit which is made up of a number of lawyers and law students whose aim is to provide legal aid and information.
I hope you found this week’s blog post interesting.
#KeepingUpWithTheInterns is part of our project Marginalised Persons as Human Rights Volunteers. If you want to follow Matthew and Rimaz as they navigate their way through Malta’s human rights landscape, subscribe to our News & Updates or follow them on our social media pages!
This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations within the Ministry for Education and Employment. This project/publication reflects the views only of the author, and the MEDE and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.