The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

Government still unsure whether to introduce gay marriage in this legislature

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 22 February 2017, 15:35 Last update: about 3 years ago

Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli said that it will be up to Cabinet to decide whether same-sex marriage would be introduced this legislature or not, thus meaning that there is no indication of whether this would be introduced before the 2018 general elections.

Minister Helena Dalli stressed again that yesterday's statement on the issue were not a diversionary tactic, but that she was answering a question posed by a delegate present at a conference. "We are working on these amendments and in essence, as we all know, the Civil Union law is on par with marriage, so we shall eventually, after I present the amendments to Cabinet and if they are accepted, we will change the name, but it requires quite an overhaul in terms of work which needs to be done vis-a-vie this change."

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She was addressing a press conference was ahead of tomorrow's conference for ministers, EU leaders, Civil society advocates etc on LGBTIQ equality mainstreaming.

Asked whether they plan to implement the law before the next election, she said she is not able to answer this, as she would need to present the amendment to Cabinet, and said that it is Cabinet's decision.

Sylvan Agius from the Human Rights and Integration Directorate said that the change in law will not solely be changing the name on a bill, as we would have introduced it earlier if this were the case, he explained. He said that the law would also need to take into account the rights of heterosexual couples, and said that they were discussing the possibility of changing the law to allow men to take on their wife's surname.

Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli said that Transgender Europe, who was represented at the press conference, launched a best practices catalogue called 'Human Rights and Gender Identity', and expressed she her satisfaction at this being launched in Malta.

She said that Malta is being used as a model for other countries in order to give rights and better lives to LGBTIQ people. "I was at the launch of the Network launched by the Drachma Parents group yesterday, and it was done through NGO funds through my ministry. She said that parents are the best persons to understand their children. We have always said we work with civil society, and from the outset government set up the LGBTIQ Consultative Council.

"What we have done so far in the LGBTIQ sector comes from the real lives of people."

She mentioned a call she received from a teenager's mother, who wanted her child's documentation to reflect the gender the child identified with. How can we as legislators deny this right to a 16-year-old girl, who doesn't want to go out due to her Identity documents showing a male name. it is important to work with families, ngos etc as they are best placed to tell us, as legislators, what we can do to improve peoples' lives, so that they can live dignified lives and reach their potential."

"We are currently working on an equality bill and a human rights and equality commission. We are finalising the cohabitation bill which should become law in a few months time. We have always worked while in consultation with stakeholders and the persons concerned."

Sylvan Agius from the Human Rights and Integration Directorate said that tomorrow's conference is a priority for the Maltese presidency, and in essence is about "taking stock of where we are in the EU in terms of LGBTIQ equality, equality at national level and seeing how the EU can contribute to better enforcement of legislation, and how states can learn from each other to share knowledge, show what works and build a collective platform for action."

"We are focusing, in terms of policy areas for national development, on education healthcare and safety. We hope that out of this conference, a number of measures are adopted and implemented by governments to improve the lives of LGBTIQ people in Europe and beyond."

Malta, it was said, features heavily in the catalogue, and the GIGESC (Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sex Characteristics) Act is hailed as a best practice for legal gender recognition. In addition, Malta's LGBTIQ Action Plan, educational policy and the LGBTI consultative council are also referenced.

Senior Policy Officer at Transgender Europe Richard Kohler said that since the publication of the best practice catalogue 2011, trans rights across Europe have advanced in leaps and bounds. "It is actually very fitting to launch this edition in Malta, whose progress in this area of human rights has become an inspiration for other countries to follow, and a beacon of hope for trans people across the continent."

 


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