Ground-Breaking Legislation in Malta

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A Landmark Moment in the Struggle for Intersex Rights

The Maltese Government became the first legislative body in the world to acknowledge the human rights issues surrounding intersex when it launched a consultation exercise for it’s proposed Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Bill (GIGESC) in October this year.

This proposed bill is the culmination of immense work by intersex advocates to acquire protections for people born intersex, where currently none exist.

It is intended this bill will provide the following protections:-

  • Create a protected right of bodily integrity and personal autonomy for all people
  •  Make illegal “non-medically necessary treatment on the sex characteristics of a person without informed consent”.
  • Create a new ground in anti-discrimination law,  of “sex characteristics”  including people with atypical sex characteristics.
  • Make 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.
  • Create a right of  gender identity for all people, and enable greater provision for legally changing gender.

The Maltese Government has openly acknowledged the social pressures that drive surgical interventions on intersex infants.  Bringing this proposed legislation to statute will be a world-first, and the first time intersex people will have ever had their rights of self-determination, personal dignity and bodily integrity acknowledged and respected.  Human right that are enshrined in issues raised in the Council of Europe Resolution 1952 (2013) on Children’s right to physical integrity.

Additionally, the Maltese Government has taken the opportunity to  review it’s laws about gender recognition.  This bill will also address gender identity and expression.  The provision of new protections for all people to live in the gender identity of their choice is welcome, as is the proposed improvement of procedures to legally changer gender.

OII-UK warmly welcomes these proposals, and urges the UK Government and other administrations within the European Union to follow Malta’s lead.