EP co-president describes Malta as an 'example to the West' on LGBTI rights

MEP Michael Cashman lauds Malta's progress in civil rights and protections

The second day of IDAHO, an international conference against homophobia and transphobia, kicked off at the Malta Conference Centre today.

Michael Cashman, MEP and co-president of the LGBT intergroup in the European Parliament, had words of praise to the great strides Malta made in LGBTI rights, saying that the inclusion of gender identity in its constitution made Malta as an example to Western countries.

In April, Malta became the first European state to include gender identity as a protected ground in its legal framework.

'The changes we have witnessed in Malta did not come by accident. When I first arrived in Malta ten years ago to argue in favour of EU accession, I found a strong civil society and a small yet organised group of men and women who were not afraid to make their voices heard against discrimination.

"But I never imagined this day in Malta. This is what you gain when you have politicians with courage and principles," Cashman said.

The EP co-president also referred to the recent legislation of civil unions, describing it as an act of courage by the government to defy public opinion.

"The civil unions bill is an absolute proof of your Prime Minister's courage not to turn away from responsibility and merely follow public opinion," Cashman told Minister Helena Dalli. "How brilliant it is to safeguard minorities in tolerance and respect."

Cashman was addressing the second IDAHO conference being currently held in Malta and co-hosted with Sweden.

Opening the second day of the conference, Minister for Civil Liberties Helena Dalli said LGBTI equality is not a priority for many and could not become one unless there is political will.

"The LGBTI community is relatively small and can be pushed to the sidelines, unless we take action as decision makers. We cannot stop working on this issue, as the Prime Minister stated yesterday, there is no such thing as part time equality," Dalli said.

She added that Malta's situation included social realities which were not legally regulated.

"We had a society which was already ahead but in terms of laws we were lagging behind. It was time to legislate what already existed."

Dalli noted that unfortunately many countries have put equality on the back burner following the financial crises.

"This approach can never be justified. Justice delayed is justice denied. Moreover, the sffirmation of equality during hard times is the key to recovery."

More in National

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition