Transgender Europe applauds Malta for naming gender identity

Malta with the first Constitution in Europe to name gender identity.

Malta has become the first European state to have gender identity in its constitution following the proposed amendment that was approved yesterday evening in parliament.

The news has reached foreign shores and Transgender Europe (TGEU) was among the first NGOs to laud Malta for including gender identity as a protected ground in its highest legal text.

On Monday evening, parliament also introduced civil unions giving same-sex and different-sex couples nearly the same rights as married couples. Transgender persons who have changed their legal gender are now also able to enter into a marriage.

“These are fantastic news. It has been a long way for Malta, and we congratulate the activists who have fought over all the years for the recognition and protection of transgender people,” TGEU Executive Director Julia Ehrt said.

According to TGEU policy officer Richard Köhler, the constitutional amendment is also a signal for other countries to uplift transgender identities out of the shadows of prejudice and misconception.

 “Countries must say loud and clear: we stand proudly by our transgender population. We need more trans champions like Malta,” Köhler said.

 The parliamentarians also strengthened the anti-discrimination law to better protect transgender persons against discrimination.

A proposal for gender recognition procedures is currently under preparation, which, according to Maltese activists, will be modeled after the Argentinean Gender Identity Act.

“We urge the Maltese lawmakers now to live up to the high expectations and come up with the best law possible. Transgender persons, who have been so long the odd ones, out deserve quick, transparent and accessible procedures to have their identities recognized.” Köhler added.

Opposition MP Claudette Buttigieg, through a private member's bill, called for sexual orientation to be listed as a protected ground. The government went on to propose that gender identity should also be named in the constitution.

All government and opposition MPs voted in favour of the words "sexual orientation" to be added to Article 32 and 45 of the Constitution, which list the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals which are protected by the state.

The Opposition however abstained on the civil unions’ bill because of the reservations it had on gay adoptions.