Trans, gender variant & intersex students: securing safe learning environments that promote human rights enjoyment

On Monday 29 February, together with our project partners MGRM, the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, we launched the research report ‘Sensitivity, Safety and Strength: An Inter-agency Review of Malta’s Policy on Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students‘.

The report was researched in the context of the project that sought to assess the actual impact of the June 2015 national policy on trans, gender variant and intersex students.


Two primary goals drove the report’s spirit and methodology: to secure a safe learning environment for all students, and to support the full enjoyment of all their fundamental human rights. With this value approach in mind, our research conducted a series of stakeholder meetings in order to assess the actual impact of the June 2015 policy.

A Policy Assessment Tool was designed and presented, largely along the lines of the human rights indicator model promoted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Tool is intended to be the basis for regular, comparative policy assessments that would identify implementation trends, challenges and actual impact on the intended target groups/themes.

Our report makes a number of recommendations, including:

  1. ensure access by the school community to information on services provided by community-based organisations;
  2. engage in effective out-reach to Church and Independent Schools, in order for them to endorse the June 2015 policy and to participate in sharing of best practices, data collation and national monitoring exercises;
  3. design and implement a structured training programme on LGBTIQ matters in schools, starting from professional training at the University of Malta and following with on-going professional growth;
  4. provide schools with guidelines on attire and physical appearance (e.g. are boys allowed to wear ear-rings or to grow their hair?);

We were happy that this project enabled us to to work hand in hand with NGO and institutional partners, on the basis of a common understanding of the need to ensure a rights-based and child-centric approach to this sensitive issue. This is definitely a project implementation methodology that we will seek to follow in other areas.

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).

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).

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.



Our Director awarded for his LGBTI rights work!


Last night Neil (Director) was honored with an award for his work in the area of promotion of the rights of LGBTI persons. The Malta Gay Rights Movement organized Malta’s first LGBTI Community Awards, recognizing the commitment of various personalities and professionals towards supporting LGBTI rights.

Neil was awarded the Human Rights award category, with mention of his work in protecting the most vulnerable members of society, including refugees.

Background news can be read here.