The Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties refers to the article entitled ‘Equality Bill “may encroach on our fundamental rights”’ (November 7).
The ministry rejects the statements made by Adina Portaru, on behalf of ADF International, which organisation is not a human rights organisation, as erroneously indicated, but a conservative Christian group. Indeed, while the global arm of this group claims to “defend freedom and seek justice”, over the years it has consistently fought against LGBTIQ rights in various states around the world.
Its current CEO, Alan Sears, co-wrote a book called The homosexual agenda: exposing the principal threat to religious liberty, claiming that homosexuality, among others, promotes paedophilia.
The group’s executive director, Benjamin Bull, applauded India’s ban on consensual sex between gay adults. Many other similar actions have been taken by this group, as correctly pointed out by the Times of Malta itself in the online version of the article. These relevant points were not included in its print version.
If Malta were to follow ADF International’s ideology, we would immediately put into question some of the most basic tenets of our democracy, such as the rights of minorities and religious freedom and pluralism.
Portaru’s analysis claims that certain terms, such as ‘harassment’, are defined too vaguely in the proposed Bill. However, the definitions in question stem from European Union legislation and already form part of Malta’s legal framework. The Bills in question merely widen their scope to ensure the law is truly equal for all grounds in all spheres of life.
This ministry also struggles to comprehend how Portaru could possibly view the definitions of gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics as ‘vague’ when these are already a successful part of our law, through chapter 540, the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act.
This ministry would also like to remind Portaru that protection from sexual orientation and gender identity is already entrenched in our Constitution.
For the past two years, the ministry has openly and extensively consulted with major stakeholders and the public to achieve the best possible version of laws that will be affecting a vast number of areas of everyday life.
Contrary to what was claimed, the Bills are, therefore, not only ensuring that Maltese legislation is in line with its international obligations but will also be measurably strengthening our national equality and non-discrimination framework.
As this ministry has done with previous laws, these Bills will also be improving Malta’s reputation internationally and, more importantly, ensuring a better life for all citizens.
This is why this ministry regards the article in question as factually incorrect and does not do justice to the proposed Bills.
A thorough expose of the consultation process is available to all at: www.socialdialogue.gov.mt/humanrights.