Gender identity bill passes into law

A Bill aimed at protecting the rights of trans, genderqueer and intersex people to their self-determined identity has passed into law. Opposition leader not present in Parliament as law passes.

A Bill aimed at protecting the rights of trans, gender queer and intersex people to their self-determined identity has been enacted into law, with both sides of the House in Parliament voting in favour of it.

The law has removed the need to undergo sex reassignment surgery before official documents – such as an ID card or passport – are changed to reflect the holder’s gender identity. It will give people the choice of not declaring their sex or gender identity on identification documents through the introduction of an ‘X’ marker.

It has rendered gender reassignment surgery a valid reason for sick leave, hate crimes will be expanded to include hate crimes against gender-queer and intersex people, and trans-people will be allowed to change their identity while they are married.     

Despite tweeting this morning that Opposition MPs will be voting in favour of the Bill, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil was not present in Parliament as the Bill was passed. Several other Oppostion MPs were also absent. On the other side of the House, the government benches were all but full, with only Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, who is abroad, and Gozo Minister Anton Refalo, who is in hospital, not present for the Bill's passing.

The passing was met by claps from members of the public who had entered Parliament to witness it. However, their celebrations were shot down by Speaker Anglu Farrugia.

“This is not a football pitch and who wants to clap can do so outside,” he warned. 

Speaking at a seminar on equality for trans, genderqueer and intersex people earlier today, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat described the Bill as the "highlight" of the Labour legislature thus far. Civil Liberties minister Helena Dalli said that the law will remove ‘abusive requirements’ expected by law before allowing individuals to live as their preferred gender. She said that trans, genderqueer and intersex people have suffered “institutional discrimination”, reinforced by the state’s legal system.

“In December 2013, I had the pleasure to be the first minister to attend the International Intersex Forum that was meeting in Malta for the first time,” she said.“I left that meeting determined to change the situation here in Malta, and I’m proud this law will guarantee the right to bodily integrity and self determination.”

Dalli expressed pride at the progress made in the past two years, turning Malta into a leader on these issues. But, she said, there was more to be done.

“Our country will need to continue to further its engagement on LGBTIQ issues at the regional and international level to ensure that the rights in question are respected everywhere.”