UPDATED Joint Statement: MGRM & aditus on Council of Europe Resolution on Trans Rights

The MGRM and aditus foundation welcome the adoption by the Council of Europe of a comprehensive resolution on the human rights of trans persons. The Assembly calls upon Member States to respect, protect and fulfil the right of trans persons not to be discriminated against and to facilitate quick, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition based on self-determination. It also asks for member states to provide information and raise awareness particularly among professionals in the education, health and psycho-social fields.

We commend the work conducted by Deborah Schembri as rapporteur for the committee on equality and non-discrimination in raising awareness on the issues trans people face across Council of Europe member states. We also thank Minister for Civil Liberties Helena Dalli for her intervention leading up to the debate in the parliamentary assembly.

“The Resolution is the most important and wide-ranging statement of support for the rights of transgender persons ever made at European level.” Explains Richard Köhler, TGEU Senior Policy Officer.

Through the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act Malta is at the forefront of trans rights and we are glad to note that the Maltese Government is also advocating for trans rights Internationally. We applauded the unanimous support of the Act on the 1st of April and we recognise the efforts made by FOIPN’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Sub-Committee within the PN Party structure.

We are however disappointed that Beppe Fenech Adami voted against the Council of Europe Report and Resolution last Wednesday while Charlo Bonnici seems to not have been present for the vote. Deborah Schembri and Joseph Debono Grech voted in support of the resolution. In this regard, we urge the Opposition to ensure full reflection of their recent position on the GIGESC Act in all national, regional and international fora.

UPDATE (23 April, 16.27)

MGRM and aditus foundation would like to note that Charlo Bonnici acts as a replacement for Beppe Fenech Adami and is only entitled to vote in his absence. We therefore withdraw the previous press statement and submit a revised version.

We also acknowledge and welcome Beppe Fenech Adami’s claim that he voted against amendments that went against the resolution and in favour of an amendment put forward by Deborah Schembri and that to his knowledge, he voted in favour of the resolution in the final vote and that he has communicated with the Council of Europe Secretariat to rectify the No vote registered on the Council of Europe website.



We’ve published our input on the ‘Gender Identity Bill’


On 25th October 2014 the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties presented the ‘Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Bill’ (‘GI Bill’) in Parliament, described as “as Act for the recognition and registration of the gender of a person and to regulate the effects of such a change, as well as the recognition and protection of the sex characteristics of a person.

Our input is being presented within the context of the public consultation launched as part of on-going Parliamentary debate on the GI Bill. Prior to the publication of this Bill, aditus foundation has liaised closely with the Civil Liberties Ministry, providing regular technical input on various substantive aspects.

Such liaison and the present consultation are welcome initiatives insofar as they grant civil society organisations access to important policy- and law-making processes wherein we may share our experience and expertise.

Whilst much of our input has been endorsed and incorporated within the Bill, a number of elements require highlighting. This document presents these elements, together with an invitation to Members of Parliament to strive towards achieving the highest form of human rights protection for transgender and intersex persons.

Our input can be downloaded here.

aditus’ training on LGBTI Asylum issues

On 26th September we gave the training to a number of NGOs working in LGBTI issues, on the transposition of EU’s Asylum and Victim’s Rights Directives, as a part of aditus’ Stakeholder Information Sessions project.

During the first part of the training, Neil (our Director) provided basic information on the asylum Directives and explained how they can be applied to LGBTI asylum-seekers.  The Directives identify the standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection.  For a better understanding of different legal statuses, Neil clarified the distinction between a refugee, asylum-seeker and any other migrant.  Together with the representatives from LGBTI-supporting organisations we discussed the criteria and the process of recognition of refugees, which do consider sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis to recognise international protection needs, particularly under the ‘recast’ (new) EU Directives.

In the second part of the training we focused on the Victims’ Rights Directive, which seeks to promote the principle of non-discrimination and sets out minimum rights for victims in criminal proceedings that take place in the EU.  Neil explained the issues of victims’ support and protection from an LGBTI perspective and highlighted the importance of training for police services, officials and lawyers to support them in dealing with LGBTI victims in a respectful, sensitive, professional and non-discriminatory manner.

We all agreed that the proper transposition of the Directives into Maltese legislation is necessary and we will be monitoring the implementation process through advocacy and capacity-building activities.

Big thanks to the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties for offering its premises for the training.

‘Malta’s IVF law reinforces inequalities’ – Joint press statement with Malta Gay Rights Movement

The ‘Embryo Protection Act’ is an unashamedly homophobic law insofar as it denies access to medical services purely on the basis of sexual orientation.  It is also a violation of human dignity by introducing unreasonable and unwarranted intrusions into physical integrity, in its criminalization of egg or sperm donation.

aditus foundation and Malta Gay Rights Movement take the opportunity of yesterday’s opening of the tendering process for IVF services to reiterate MGRM’s earlier criticism of the IVF law (available here).

Under the IVF law, medically assisted procreation is only open to “prospective parents”, defined in a discriminatory manner as “two persons of the opposite sex who are united in marriage, or…who are in a stable relationship with each other.”  In practice, this means that same-sex couples will be automatically denied access to medical services on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Furthermore, the Act imposes severe criminal sanctions against any person who donates his sperm or her eggs outside of the IVF law framework.  aditus foundation and MGRM question the relationship between embryo protection and the fundamental rights of all persons to be protected from violations of their physical and mental integrity, and to decide on core matters such as their private and family lives.

“We question the compliance of Malta’s IVF law with human rights law, since it seems to ignore legislation and jurisprudence unequivocally stating that all rights and obligations accessible by different-sex couples should be equally accessible and enjoyable by same-sex couples.” Gabi Calleja, MGRM Coordinator.

“We fail to understand why the government is concerned with what men do with their own sperm, and what women do with their own eggs.  As long as no third parties are negatively affected, these are decisions for individuals to take, and not for the state to criminalise.”  Dr. Neil Falzon, aditus foundation Director.

aditus foundation and MGRM strongly urge the competent authorities to truly respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all persons irrespective of their sexual orientation and to embrace a more realistic, understanding and indiscriminate notion of ‘family’.  In particular, the two organisations urge a thorough revision of the Embryo Protection Act to remove all discriminatory provisions and to bring it in line with human rights standards.

Download the statement here.



Joint statement with MGRM on recently-proposed amendments to the Constitution

The Malta Gay Rights Movement and aditus welcome the proposed amendment to the constitution put forward by the opposition to widen anti-discrimination provision to include the ground of sexual orientation.

The MGRM and aditus further urge parliament to also incorporate constitutional amendments on the grounds of gender identity and expression in order to ensure that the same level of protection is afforded to transgender persons.

This is particularly important since the recent Fundamental Rights Agency LGBT survey clearly demonstrates that transgender persons report higher rates of discrimination in access to healthcare, housing and other services.

Neil Falzon, Director of aditus said: “This amendment, if approved, will have an important legal impact across all present and future legislation in Malta. Furthermore it unequivocally asserts that as a nation Malta fully endorses the principles of non-discrimination and equality, for the promotion of a society where all members are truly equal.”