Campaigners have welcomed a decision to allow a transgender woman in Malta the right to marry.

Joanne Cassar, a 31-year-old hairdresser, began legal proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2011 after she was prevented from marrying on the island.

Although the case is still pending in Strasbourg, on Wednesday, the Maltese Government dropped its objection to Ms Cassar’s claim.

In a statement, Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and the Aditus Foundation said: “The right of transgender persons to marry was firmly established in a preceding case dating back to 2002 – Christine Goodwin vs. the United Kingdom – where the ECHR held that it ‘finds no justification for barring the transsexual from enjoying the right to marry under any circumstances.’

“We also welcome the (Malta) government’s pledge to promptly enact the required changes to the Civil Code to ensure recognition of transgender persons as persons of the acquired sex for all intents and purposes, including marriage.”

The statement added: “In addition we reiterate the need for a comprehensive Gender Identity Bill, as proposed by MGRM in 2010 – that would facilitate the gender recognition of transgender persons and safeguard their fundamental human rights, including the right to respect for privacy and family life as established in Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.”