EU report highlights discrimination in Malta

Forum Mithani July 1, 2008
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Maltese law discriminates against the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, according to a report drawn up by an EU agency.

As reported on yesterday, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has released its legal analysis of homophobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the 27 member states.

It concluded that Maltese people in same-sex relationships “are not treated in a like manner to heterosexual couples simply because of their sexual orientation.”

Even Maltese citizens who enter a legally valid, same-sex union in another country may find their relationship is not recognised in their own country.

The report on Malta was authored by Ian Regalo and Therese Comodini Cachia, who concluded that members of the LGBT community in Malta did not receive the same protection and rights as heterosexuals.

Maltese law states that marriage can only be between persons of the opposite sex.

This lack of recognition means same-sex spouses of EU citizens do not enjoy the same rights, such as freedom of movement within the EU, as opposite-sex spouses in Malta, which contravenes EU legislation.

EU law stipulates that not only legally-recognised unions, but also de-facto relationships between members of the same sex should be treated no differently to heterosexual unions.

This lack of recognition of same-sex unions also affects the status of refugees.

A refugee in a same-sex relationship with an EU citizen would not have the same legal protection as a refugee in a heterosexual relationship.

The report also highlights the discrimination faced by transsexuals in Malta, as there is no formal procedure for changing one’s gender status in law.

Last month, reported on the “inhumane” treatment of a transsexual Maltese woman who was told by a judge she could not be considered a woman in legal terms.

Malta is one of the most socially conservative countries in the EU.

A survey conducted in 2006 found only 18% of Maltese supported gay marriage.

The Mediterranean island, a former British colony, is the smallest EU state, with a population of just 400,000.

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