Malta retains first place in LGBTIQ+ rights index for sixth year running

Malta scores 94% in ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Map, retaining the top spot for LGBTIQ+ rights for the sixth year running

A gay couple embraces at the annual Pride March. (File Photo: Ray Attard)
A gay couple embraces at the annual Pride March. (File Photo: Ray Attard)

Malta’s inclusion of sex characteristics as grounds for protection when dealing with asylum claims has strengthened its top spot in the Rainbow Map released today.

Malta scored 94%, five points more than last year, retaining the top spot for the sixth year running.

The Rainbow Map is a score card released every year by ILGA-Europe, an advocacy group, that measures the rights enjoyed by LGBTIQ+ people in several areas of policy.

Malta also received points in relation to new indicators that have been included in the index for non-binary recognition and legal gender recognition procedures for minors.

Since 2014 when it first legislated for same-sex civil unions, Malta has seen massive progress in the rights enjoyed by the gay community.

Eventually, Malta legislated for marriage equality in 2017, banned conversion therapy, made it easier for people to change their gender on official documents, changed the in-vitro fertilisation law to make it possible for lesbians to benefit from treatment and adopted other policy measures that ensured the country made it to the top spot in Europe.

The Rainbow Map ranks 49 European countries on their respective legal and policy practices for LGBTI people.

Belgium placed second after Malta for the fourth time with a score of 74%, while Luxembourg with 72% came third for the third year in a row.

At the other end of the scale, are Azerbaijan (2%), Turkey (4%), and Armenia (8%), exactly the same as last year.

Denmark is the country with the most dramatic drop in its score, losing 3.8 points since access to trans-specific healthcare is still linked with a mental health assessment.

In a tweet, marking the publication of the rankings, Prime Minister Robert Abela said Malta was “committed to keep improving in the years ahead”.

Malta won the bid to host EuroPride in 2023 with a focus to offer ‘a safe port of call’ for the LGBTIQ+ community in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, where significant challenges remain.