Malta today became the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive legislation banning medically unnecessary, non-consensual infant genital surgeries on intersex infants and young children.
A combined effort by intersex and trans activists over many years today culminated in the first comprehensive provisions to offer legal protections for intersex, trans* and genderqueer people in Malta.
A significant catalyst that helped propel intersex human rights issues to the forefront of Maltese political attention came when ILGA held it’s annual conference in Malta during 2009. This brought LGBTI activists and advocates to Malta from all around the world, and led to a meeting with the Maltese President, Dr George Abela.
Continuing the groundwork from then, and sharing resources by intersex and trans* activists bore fruit in April 2014 when Malta adopted same sex marriage, and becoming the 22nd country in Europe to recognise same sex unions, and the 10th country to allow couples to jointly apply for child adoption.
The legislation that developed from that work has now led to:-
- A protected right of bodily integrity and personal autonomy for all people
- Making illegal “non-medically necessary treatment on the sex characteristics of a person without informed consent”.
- Creating a new ground in anti-discrimination law, of “sex characteristics” including people with atypical sex characteristics.
- Making full provision for psycho-social counselling, support and medical interventions related to sex and/or gender”, which may include peer support for people with intersex variations.
- Creating a right of gender identity for all people, and enable greater provision for legally changing gender.
In addition to adopting these legislative protections , the Maltese Government took the opportunity to review it’s provisions about gender recognition. Included in the comprehensive new legislation are new protections for variant gender identity and expression. Provisions now provide protections for all people to live in the gender of their choice, and there are newly improved and simplified procedures for people who wish to change their gender. Finally Malta has made it possible for people to apply for a gender neutral ‘X” passport, and to change their official documentation to match.
It is impossible to express how significant this legislation is. It is the first time in history a government anywhere has adopted laws to protect intersex people from the human rights abuses directed at them simply for their state of being. It shows how articulate and well informed activism, working in liaison with receptive government departments and ministries can make hugely beneficial changes to social reform for all people.
It is only right to share some of the names of those who have made this possible. The roll call of honour includes:-
Sylvan Agius, Ruth Baldacchino, LGBTIQ Consultative Council, Helena Dalli – Minister for Social Dialogue,Consumer Affairs an Civil Liberties, the Malta Gay Rights Movement.
There are many other advocates from around the world who shared in this work, but today everyone will celebrate Malta’s historic place in addressing intersex human rights issues.
OII-UK offers it’s warmest congratulations to all the advocates, activists, agencies and Maltese Government departments and ministries for their close liaison and determination in securing this historic moment and assuring the rights of intersex, trans* and gender-queer people in Malta.
Congratulations to Malta for leading the world in this momentous world first in securing the rights and legal protections of intersex, trans* and gender-queer people in Malta!