aditus & MGRM Joint Submission on the ‘Embryo Protection Act’


On 30 July 2015 the Parliamentary Secretariat for Health issued a Press Release (PR 151745) inviting feedback on Malta’s IVF legal framework. We understand that the aim of this request is to review the current regime and bring it in line with other relevant legal norms as well as ECtHR jurisprudence.

aditus foundation and MGRM welcome this initiative and are happy to share their views in this document. We look forward to discussing this feedback with the Secretariat and with the Inter- Ministerial IVF Review Working Committee.

Our Joint Submission to the Ministry focuses on three main points, largely echoing our initial reactions to the Act:

  1. the ‘Embryo Protection Act’ is an unashamedly homophobic law, also in violation of the Malta Constitution, as it denies access to medical services purely on the basis of sexual orientation;
  2. the law violates human dignity by introducing unreasonable and unwarranted intrusions into physical integrity, throughout the criminalization of egg or sperm donation;
  3. the absolute ban of surrogacy effectively blocks a potentially legitimate pathway to parenthood for several couples.

You can read the full submission here (.pdf).

Policy Paper I: Prohibition of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity/Gender Expression Conversion Therapy

This first Policy Paper is being published following a 14 July 2015 Sunday Times report of a three-day service with Mr. T. Brown (US Evangelist) invited by a Maltese Evangelist community, River of Love, in order to carry out or promote conversion therapy. Central to Mr. Brown’s teaching is a belief that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured through repentance.

Following this news, the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties announced its intention to enact legislation in order to criminalise harmful conversion therapies[2]. This intention was also included as one of the main legislative measures to be carried out under the Ministry’s LGBTIQ Action Plan 2015 – 2017.

As a human rights NGO with a mandate to monitor, act and report on access to human rights in Malta, aditus foundation feels it is necessary to publish our policy on the banning of conversion therapies. This Paper is the first in what we hope will become a series of Policy Papers on human rights issues of national importance. Our aim is that these Papers will inform policy- and law-making as well as contribute to a public discussion that is safe, inclusive and based on key human rights principles.

Below is an extract from the Paper. The full Policy Paper is available on our Publications page, under Policy Input.

Conversion or reparative therapy is generally understood to be an “umbrella term for a type of talking therapy or activity which attempts to change sexual orientation or reduce attraction to other of the same sex”. Any such treatment is based on the premise that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or queer is a mental disorder or deformity that can be cured.

We consider these forms of treatment as having potentially damaging effects on the individuals subjected to them. Furthermore, the belief that sexual orientation or gender identity may be treated as curable illnesses or conditions is based on a non-scientific and largely religious understanding of the LGBTIQ community as opposed to one based on researched and informed scientific facts.

Yet we also feel that the State should not give itself the authority to interfere in free and informed decisions taken by adults, including on issues that the State might be uncomfortable with.

Clearly, when such decisions are not free and informed but forced and/or involuntary, the State is not only justified but also required to intervene in order to safeguard the rights and interests of affected persons. Particular attention should therefore be paid to vulnerable persons, including children. Finally, in view of these considerations, we propose that the ban on conversion therapy be limited to mental health practitioners and to those instances when this is forced and/or involuntary.

It will therefore be noted that our approach does not endorse a blanket criminalisation approach, as originally suggested by the Ministry, but is based on a more subtle approach towards conversion therapy, in an attempt to reconcile the various fundamental human rights at play in such contexts, namely: religious freedom, freedom of expression, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, right to privacy and family life (in no particular order).

We are also keen to stress that banning conversion therapy should not be seen as an end in itself, as this could be described as blind and invasive. The idea of banning conversion therapy should however be entrenched in the State’s interest to (1) prevent practices that claim to be based on medical evidence, when they are not and (2) to protect vulnerable members of society from harmful practices.


Assessing a National Educational Policy on Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Children

We’ve spent the past few months working on a policy assessment tool that we’ll be using to review Malta’s policy on trans, gender variant and intersex children. The policy was published on 16 June 2015.

Running from January to December 2015, this project brings us together as partners with, MGRM, the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties.

The project will conduct a qualitative research exercise assessing the immediate impact on schools of Malta’s new national Educational Policy on Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students.

Following the development of specific indicators in consultation with policy-makers, the project will base this assessment on attitudes and approaches of schools to trans, gender variant and intersex children and youth, and their families, in order to ascertain the effectiveness and sustainability of the policy.

The project’s assessment tool will lend itself to future further assessments for on-going evaluation, as well as possible use in other educational policy areas such as racism.

Our Director commented, “we are extremely happy to partner with governmental and non-governmental entities in such an important initiative as this further strengthens our potential impact on national human rights standards. We are also keen to advocate for the introduction of regular and inclusive policy review exercises on the basis of human rights indicators.”

Visit the Project Page.

This project is funded by ILGA-Europe, through the Documentation and Advocacy Fund (funding cycle 2014).

#Freetobeme Malta Gay Pride 2015

On Saturday 30 May we joined our friends and colleagues to march through Valletta for Malta’s 2015 Gay Pride March. Themed #Freetobeme, this year’s Pride was particularly jubilant seeing colourful floats and a more varied crowd.

“We’ve been marching in Malta’s pride for several years now. It’s a great time to meet up with our friends in the LGBTIQ networks, to celebrate our achievements and also to remind Malta of the various communities living around us.” 

Visit our colourful Flickr photo album!

Pride March Banner