Malta’s government accused of double standards on gay rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An opposition MP in Malta has accused the government of ignoring the rights of gay people now they have been re-elected.

Evarist Bartolo of the Partit Laburista (Labour Party) said that at a pre-election meeting with Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) the government had said it was in favour of such an EU directive.

The Times of Malta reports that the EU was proposing the insertion of a directive “against discrimination in several aspects, including gays. The government was maintaining that the directive was still premature and that things should be allowed to mature before incorporating such a directive in Maltese law.”

Partit Nazzjonalista, the Christian Democracts, won re-election in March 2008.

Labour said they were treated in “a cynical, derisory and depreciative” manner when they raised gay couples during a debate on rent reform last week.

Mr Bartolo said that in meetings before the election with MGRM representatives, PN had said appeared to be supportive of gay rights.

In July the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) 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 concluded that members of the LGBT community do 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.

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.

Three-quarters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Malta would emigrate if they had the chance, according to a survey released last month.

150 people took paste in the MGRM poll.

74% said they would emigrate if possible and 67% said discrimination was a key factor. 45% of the respondents had been harassed by friends or acquaintances and 37% by co-workers.

MGRM also released accounts of violence faced by LGBT people in Malta.