aditus foundation is extremely happy to welcome the recent amendments brought about to Maltese law in terms of offering better protection to lesbians, gays, and transgender persons living in Malta. The amendments add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of circumstances aggravating certain types of crimes, and also to the legal mandate of Malta’s national equality body, the Nation Council for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE).
“The authorities are sending clear messages. Violent acts against gays, lesbians or transgender men or women will not be tolerated and will be severely punished. Employers who discriminate on these grounds will now be held accountable and may face serious repercussions. Of course, the main strength of these amendments is their potential to prevent these violent acts and discriminatory practices”, Dr. Neil Falzon (aditus foundation Director).
These amendments are in many ways a human rights success for all of Malta, since they reaffirm the equal dignity of all persons. They are a success for the united voice of the non-governmental organisations calling for their adoption.
“Ultimately, they are a tribute to all persons who were and are bullied, beaten, insulted, ostracised and rebuked simply due to their non-conformity to public expectations and norms.”
aditus foundation is very happy to welcome the recent announcement by the Minister for Justice, Dialogue and the Family regarding legal amendments broadening hate crimes legislation. The proposed amendments will extend current legislation to cover crimes based on homophobia, transphobia and other grounds such as disability.
aditus Director Dr. Neil Falzon: “This is a clear statement condemning acts of violence committed out of discrimination against particularly vulnerable groups. We are particularly happy to see the inclusion of gender identity as a protected ground, putting Malta at the forefront of recognising and tackling the difficult and often violent situations faced by transgender persons simply because they are perceived to be different.”
The organisation also welcomes the extension of the remit of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE), mandating it to formally deal with discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that NCPE will now include these two important grounds in all of its activities, including research, awareness raising, advocacy and training. From the perspective of victims of discrimination, these measures guarantee a further source of redress against individuals and agencies discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The possibility to seek effective redress for human rights violations is central to the very nature of human rights protection. We’re looking forward to NCPE’s involvement in these areas in order to better understand the extent of such discrimination in Malta and to devise strategies to combat it, together.”
aditus underlines that these amendments are the result of on-going advocacy efforts by several organisations, and a strong sign of the important role played by non-governmental organisations in the promotion of human rights in Malta.
“We stand ready to support their implementation through training activities targeting governmental officials, police officers and other interested and relevant stakeholders.”
The Malta Gay Rights Movement and aditus strongly condemn the act of violence that took place in Hamrun against two young women on Friday 13th January as reported in the Sunday Times and would like to express their solidarity with the victims and their families.
In many countries, such an assault would be investigated as a hate crime but Malta has yet to extend hate crime legislation to include the grounds of homophobia and transphobia.
Violence on lesbian, gay and trans people is not an uncommon occurrence although most incidents do not get reported to the police or featured in newspapers. Trust in the police force is an essential factor in encouraging and enabling LGBT victims to come forward and report such crimes. For this reason, how the police react to this assault, also has an effect on the reporting of other similar incidents. We therefore hope that charges will be brought against the perpetrators and that the assault is treated with the seriousness it deserves.
We would also like to express our concern with regards to allegations made by the mother of the victim with regards to the difficulties and harassment experienced by the daughter in school when her sexual orientation became known, particularly as this seems to have involved inappropriate behaviour by teachers. We urge the Department of Educational Services to investigate such claims and reiterate once again the need to introduce clear policies and guidelines that protect LGBT students and staff from harassment and discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Those LGBT people who have experienced similar incidents or require support are encouraged to contact MGRM on firstname.lastname@example.org or call the National Gay Helpline: on 9925 5559.
Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the MGRM stated: “This is a shocking act of violence that continues to affirm the dangers that the LGBT community faces in coming out.”
Neil Falzon, from aditus, added: “We’re further concerned at the girl’s current safety and hope that she is offered adequate protection from revictimisation, including during any criminal investigations and court proceedings.”