Gay ‘conversion therapy’ could become a criminal offence

Helena Dalli says LGBT+ consultative council has been asked to draft proposals on the criminalisation of 'conversion therapy"

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli (Photo: Ray Attard)
Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli (Photo: Ray Attard)

Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli today said that the government 's consultative council on LGBT+ rights has been requested to draft proposals in lieu of a future Bill that would criminalise 'conversion therapy' of LGBT+ people.

"Such therapies harm people and breach their human rights," Dalli said in the latest public consultation session 'Gvern li Jisma'. "People should be allowed to live as they were born and many Western countries are starting to realize how damaging conversion therapies can be,"she said.

Tom Brown, a US Evangelist and founder of the Word of Life church in Texas, visited Malta last weekend as a special guest at evangelist church River of Love. In an interview with the Times of Malta, Brown advocated his stance in favour of “conversion therapy”, arguing that homosexuality is a sin.

Dalli praised this year's passing of a Gender Identity Law that other countries have started to eye up as a model for their own laws.

"We have signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Belgium who will now base their gender identity law off ours," she said. "Malta is often a follower, but we are a leader in this sector that will really benefit humanity. Our law gives people the dignity to be legally recognized as the gender you identify with without being forced to go through medical interventions."

She argued that previous governments had been legislating for granted as though everyone is either a man or a woman.

"Some people feel excluded from society because their gender identity isn't mainstream," Dalli said. "Transgender and intersex people have difficult enough lives to begin with and the government shouldn't pile on the pressure and humiliation for them.

"Trans-people are amongst the most bullied groups and have a high rate of suicide, because legislators have made their lives more difficult."

She said that the government will issue stipends to youths who carry out voluntary work, so as to attract students towards a voluntary job rather than a part-time job, hence endowing them with a "sense of selflessness and responsibility".

She said that the government has introduced measures for employers to cut down on precarious work, such as the blacklisting from public tenders of companies that are found in breach of public procurement regulations or employment laws. She added that the government has increased the amount of health and safety inspectors and that workplace fatalities have decreased. However, she said that more focus must be placed on combatting mental health and stress in the workplace.

She also revealed that a White Paper on a law on cohabitation will be released for public consultation before the end of June,

"Cohabitant couples aren’t regulated as married couples or civil unions are," Dalli said. "Therefore, such couples who break up don’t have the legal rights that separated married couples enjoy."