The Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) alongside Allied Rainbow Communities, Drachma, LGBTI+ Gozo, Aditus, Checkpoint Malta, Moviment Graffitti and MMSA gathered in front of The Honorary Consulate of The Slovak Republic in Valletta on Thursday 4th May 2023 to show solidarity with the transgender community in Slovakia and to express concern about the proposed bill that would make legal gender recognition impossible in Slovakia. MGRM co-coordinator Cynthia Chircop spoke out against the bill, which would require transgender individuals to undergo a genetic test to prove that their gender was incorrectly determined at birth, a test that would be virtually impossible for most transgender individuals to pass.
Chircop emphasised that the proposed bill would not only deprive transgender people of the opportunity to have their gender identity recognized legally but also goes against the right to self-determination and international human rights law. “The intention of this law is clear; to dehumanise, oppress and erase the transgender community,” said Chircop. “It will increase the risk of bullying, discrimination and violence that they already face. Everyone should be treated equally in front of the law, regardless of their gender identity.”
MGRM called on the Maltese government to put pressure on the Slovak government to reject this bill. “Malta has been a leader in LGBTIQ rights in Europe with the most progressive laws protecting the LGBTIQ community for the past seven years,” said Chircop. “These laws and policies have allowed the transgender community in Malta to live their lives openly, access healthcare and support to affirm their identity, and contribute to society.”
Chircop also highlighted the negative consequences of anti-trans legislation and policies in countries like the US, Hungary, and Poland. “We know what hate and intolerance lead to; violence, erosion of democracy, and destruction. We need to take action today,” said Chircop.
MGRM invited Maltese MEPs and elected officials to take action to support transgender rights in Slovakia, including urging the Slovak government to withdraw the bill. “Being a passive bystander is being complicit to oppression, even if it’s not in our own country. Silence is not an option because transgender rights are human rights. And human rights belong to everyone,” said Chircop.
MGRM believes that the Maltese government, which is responsible for the world’s most progressive LGBTIQ laws, has an important story to tell about how Malta’s laws have led to a better quality of life for LGBTIQ people. By bringing forward tangible impacts that trans legislation in Malta has had on the LGBTIQ community, MEPs and the Maltese government can use their influence and legal powers to persuade the Slovak government to withdraw the bill.
MGRM and other LGBTIQ rights organisations will continue to monitor the situation in Slovakia and call for the protection of transgender rights.
Alongside a publication, this year we will be celebrating Katya Saunders’ life through an exhibition, visualizing her story through her fashion, photographs and mementos.
Being one of the first trans women in Malta, Katya Saunders was a trailblazer and an icon for Malta’s LGBTIQ+ movement. Katya was better known for her iconic fashion, modelling experience and cabaret performances but when she passed away in 2019, it quickly emerged there was more than meets the eye.In absence of voluntary organisations, and at a time when trans identities remained controversial, Katya quickly created her own support system, sheltering friends and young people who became homeless. Through her actions, her friends insist that Katya metaphorically laid down the red carpet for today’s LGBTIQ scene, to be able to safely come out and live their lives.
MGRM has also secured the support of Katya’s friends and family, which will give this project a complete picture.
Aims of the project
The exhibition aims to celebrate and immortalise Katya’s life and fashion, whilst unveiling the story of an important figure in local LGBTIQ history. Friends and family of Katya donated her belongings to MGRM, including photographs, several gowns, jewellery, shoes, and accessories. While doing so, the exhibition will also highlight the impact she left on the local LGBTIQ+ community.
Terms of Reference
– To determine, after consulting the MGRM’s team, the content and form of the exhibition.
– To collect and gather material from Katya’s loved ones, and suggest new content when needed.
– To work closely with the author of the publication, and any videographer or photographer, in order to strengthen the curatorial concept, interlinking both aspects of the project.
– To bear in mind the context of the exhibition and where it is to be held.
– Coordinate with MGRM’s team and provide critical input to the exhibition project as well as collect key information and media materials.
– Attend openings and assist with set up/takedown, greet visitors, and communicate about the exhibition.
– Attend discussions/talks in order to bring more online visibility to the exhibition
– In this and all of its projects, MGRM prioritises sustainability and would request that choices and decisions made are not detrimental to the environment.
Bidders must submit a CV, a quotation, and portfolio with relevant curatorial experience while also demonstrating the ability to produce the work being contracted to the high quality being sought.
– Quality of Portfolio presented
– Knowledge of LGBTIQ issues and LGBTIQ affirmative approach
– Technical and Financial Bid
Maximum funding available is of Eur 1,000 inclusive of VAT.
All intellectual property rights belong to MGRM, and the respective donors of Katya Saunders’ materials.
Individuals may propose working jointly with one or more persons given the tight deadlines envisaged. This must be clearly stated in their submission. Bidders are to attach CV’s of each expert.
Following the adjudication, any subcontracting to third parties other than the selected service provider/s needs to be approved in writing by MGRM other than for technical elements such as translations or proof reading.
Bids are to be sent to MGRM on email@example.com. For any queries, please contact Robert Attardon +356 99255559. Deadline is 1st April 2022.
Call Deadline Application
1st April 2022
Contract of selected service provider
8th April 2022
Gathering data and merging of data
29th April 2022
Presentation ideas of a possible artistic concept for the exhibition
6th May 2022
Final draft/ decision of the artistic concept
17th June 2022
Selection of resources
8th July 2022
Printing and framing
5th August 2022
Exhibition set up
30 – 31st August 2022
2nd – 11th September 2022
This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector.
As LGBTIQ persons, we are defined by more than our sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. Being an LGBTIQ organisation, we sought to highlight those proposals made by all parties* in their electoral manifestos which directly impact LGBTIQ rights, or which formed part of the Coalition’s Election Proposals.
This document emphasises proposals made, and is not an endorsement of any political party.
Finally, we feel that casting our vote in general elections brings our year-round activism to a full circle. We urge you to do the same.
Trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has met the strict eligibility standards set by the International Olympic Committee and the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and was selected to compete at the upcoming Olympics. This created an international debate on whether trans people, particularly women, hold an unfair advantage. Science shows that this advantage does not exist. We will try to explain why.
A familiar topic
What we are seeing around us mirrors what happened decades ago. Rooted in racism, everyone was fed the belief that white people were intellectually superior, and black people (with all the different ethnicities that fall under it) had an athletic advantage. A self fulfilling prophecy that was created not because black people in general had a genetic advantage, but brought about due to the limited opportunities that such communities had. Throughout the years, even up to this day, people have justified the success of black people in certain sports disciplines by saying that they have a biological advantage. The socioeconomic situation that led to that success is ignored. And as happened in the past, nowadays we see that any success enjoyed by a trans woman athlete is attributed solely to their supposed genetic advantage.
In the meantime, the International Olympic Committee set its first guidelines for trans athletes back in 2003. Between 2003 and now, there were minor changes, the last being in 2015. It took eighteen years for a trans athlete to both meet the criteria and qualify. This is an indication that the argument might be much smaller than it seems.
DNA and XX/XY chromosomes
All these things determine the sex that you’re born as, but they don’t really do much else. They have no effect on our everyday life, because biological processes are mostly determined by the endocrine (and nervous) system. And these hormones released by the endocrine glands can generally be ‘controlled’.
Referring to a trans woman’s body as a male body is incorrect. Uninformed people vastly underestimate how significant these hormones are. Biologically, a trans woman’s body (who undergoes medical transition) functions as a female body. In trans women, if testosterone is properly suppressed, attributes that are generally associated with male strength are very quickly lost, and other things like fat percentage increase in line with female values. Within a few months, bodybuilders can look like they barely ever stepped inside a gym, even if they maintain a certain level of training. And that muscle mass isn’t getting rebuilt as long as hormone levels are maintained. However, in some people it can take longer for muscle mass to significantly diminish, and this is where it might be fair to examine whether the current IOC guidelines should be amended. At the moment, with our limited level of research in this field, it seems like the current framework is correct, as the athletic ability of trans women is far closer to that of cis women than cis men.
Bone structure and other things that do not change with the suppression of testosterone
Firstly, women (and people in general) come in all shapes and sizes. There are cis women with narrow hips, wide shoulders, tall women, short women, and the list goes on. Do we exclude certain cis women from sports because of their shape? Bone density is higher in trans women who have had the effects of testosterone, but those bones need muscle to move, muscle which is diminished through a lack of testosterone. Not only is this not an advantage for trans woman, but it could potentially be a disadvantage when compared to cis women. Hating on a trans woman because they have a deep voice, body hair, and look more masculine (permanent effects of exposure to testosterone) only shows that people are afraid of anyone who doesn’t fit their gender stereotypes.
But VO2 max and lactate threshold and…
Back to our historical context. All of these little arguments was made about black people so you are likely falling in the same trap. We all know that was not right now. or so we hope.
Being trans is unnatural
Instead of producing sex hormones themselves, trans people have to get theirs from an external source. The food we eat, medicines we take, and pretty much everything we do in life is unnatural. Trans people are just as natural and biological as everyone else, and claiming otherwise is dehumanising.
Place trans people in a different category
Sports have never been fair. This is a ridiculous suggestion as human physiological and morphological variance has always been an accepted part of sport. No two people are the same, so should we have categories for age, height, weight, limb length, and whatever else people want to categorise? That’s how you can eliminate unfairness in sport, and it’s also how you end up with no competition as every single person will fall under a different category. Or do we only want to exclude an already marginalised and misunderstood population because we dislike anyone who’s different?
Enough with the hypotheticals
Stop reading (and sharing) disingenous articles about trans athletes who’s main purpose is to create an unfounded fear of trans people. Stop cherry-picking research that you didn’t even read (or understand). Stop claiming that trans women are or will be dominating women’s sports. Where do you see this happening? Trans people have been around and allowed to compete (following certain rules) for many years now. Every few years, whenever a trans athlete makes the headlines (because we only care about trans people when they win something), everyone starts heralding the apocalypse, and yet, we’ve never seen a trans woman be the best in any sport, let alone dominating enough that no other woman has a chance at competing. Men do have a significant advantage over women in pretty much every sport. Trans women, however, do not.
Trans male athletes exist, but we hear less about them for various reasons. Firstly, society and media is obsessed with women and their bodies. Trans women have always received much more attention because we still live in a misogynistic society where being male is superior. Secondly, environmental effects, wherein trans men who grew up as girls are less likely to take sport seriously because of gender stereotypes. Thirdly, nowadays most people transition in their 20s, and then they have to wait for the effects of testosterone, train, and bulk up, always playing catchup with cis men, so they don’t win (also because men’s sports are much more saturated). Comparatively, trans women are ‘going backwards’ in athletic ability, which is easier.
Fear and prejudice
For the vast majority of people, when they think of a trans athlete, they think of a hulking testosterone filled man who one day just decides to compete against women because it’s easy. Whenever anyone does that, all they’re doing is showing how uninformed and hateful they are, because to them, a trans person will never be anything but their assigned gender. This is an issue that goes beyond sport, and the topic of trans athletes is used to disguise general transphobia.
Having different opinions about this topic and discussing the research related to it is good. However, most people I’ve seen commenting about it are unable to do so without resorting to insults and misgendering of trans people.
Remember that typically, trans women use the female pronouns She/Her, whilst trans men use the pronouns He/Him.
Whether you like it or not, trans people are here to stay, in sport and every other aspect of society.
MGRM and HIV Malta in collaboration with a research team from the University of Malta is conducting a study that aims to explore the stigma of people living with HIV in Malta and in this way, demystify issues related to HIV. The main objective of this study is to increase awareness of this significant social issue through collaboration with MGRM, people affected with HIV and artists.
You are invited to complete an anonymous online survey, which is expected to take approximately 10 minutes. Your participation in this study is voluntary, and does not involve any known or anticipated risks. You are free to stop participating at any time without any consequences. You may also choose to partially complete any question before moving on to the next one. Before you submit the survey, you may review and modify your answers.
You will find information on further participation in this study at the end of the survey.
Please complete the survey by 25th August 2020
Please click on this link to take the survey LINK:
Mapping the Rainbow is a collection of research conducted in undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees which focus on LGBTIQ related issues. The publication is a collaboration between MGRM, The Human Rights Directorate and the Department of Gender Studies and Sexualities and the Europe Direct Information Centre of the University of Malta
Amongst others, the studies deal with Non-Conformity and Institutions, Social Issues and Education.
The publication is edited by Dr Marceline Naudi and Dr Claire Azzopardi Lane.
We have got a small number of printing publications which we are distributing for free, but we are asking you to cover the shipping costs. We encourage you to donate to MGRM in order to cover our costs for this and other projects on which we are constantly working. Alternatively, you may wish to download your free eBook by clicking the button below.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our day-to-day lives unlike anything else in living memory. As we heed to the authorities’ message to self-isolate and stay at home, more and more people are losing their income and becoming increasingly unable to pay rent. Although many landlords have been able to lower the price of rent, this is not a reality for everyone.
MGRM, Allied Rainbow Communities, Checkpoint Malta, and LGBTI+ Gozo have received messages from people in distress who are either losing their homes, or else have become homebound in unsafe places which they are unable to leave. Unfortunately all the rooms and apartments which we had been offered to us before the pandemic started are already full. This highlights how acute the situation is, whilst leaving us without option but to turn away people.
For this reason, the four NGOs have joined forces to seek to find accommodation for people at risk, or who have already become homeless. If you are able to accommodate someone temporarily whilst the pandemic crisis is ongoing, we would like to invite you to fill this form through which we hope to build a database of vacant places that can be used for altruistic purposes – https://forms.gle/7jVjVUwa8o6evGi4A
If you do not have a room or a place to offer, but would still like to help, you may donate using the below bank details or by using PayPal. The fund is administered by the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, however all funds will be jointly managed by all four NGOs. Any funds remaining after the crisis will be donated to an external charity chosen jointly between the four NGOs.
If you are not living in a safe home, reach out to any one of us and we will do our utmost to help you.
We are jointly appealing to the nation to support those who need our help.
Il-Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) ilha għal dawn l-aħħar għoxrin sena taħdem għall-kisbiet ta’ diversi drittijiet ċivili, li ħafna minnhom inkisbu f’dawn l-aħħar snin. Fid-dawl tal-bidla fit-tmexxija tal-Partit Laburista u allura fil-pożizzjoni ta’ Prim Ministru, drittijiet bħall-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ, id-dritt li familja b’koppja tal-istess sess tkun tista’ taddotta, id-dritt li persuna tibdel il-ġeneru legali skont l-affermazzjoni tal-individwu, id-dritt għal trattament mediku għal persuni trans, u b’mod ġenerali l-ugwaljanza sħiħa quddiem il-liġi jafu jkunu mhedda.
Għaldaqstant, l-MGRM tat l-opportunità lill-Onorevoli Chris Fearne u Robert Abela bħala ż-żewġ kandidati għal din il-pożizzjoni sabiex jagħtu r-risposti tagħhom għal sett ta’ domandi komuni bejn it-tnejn.
Il-kandidati ġew mgħarrfa li r-risposti ser ikunu qed jiġu ppublikati fuq is-sit tagħna, kif ukoll fuq il-paġni tagħna fuq il-mezzi tal-media soċjali li nużaw.
For the past twenty years, the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) has worked hard for the achivement of several civil rights, most of which were achieved in the past few years. As a result of the change in leadership of the Partit Laburist, and therefore the position of Prime Minister, rights such as marriage equality, equality in adoption laws, the right to change name and legal gender, the right to treatement for trans people, and in a general sense, equality in the eyes of the law, could be threatened.
For this reason, MGRM invited the Hon. Chris Fearne and the Hon. Robert Abela, as the two candidates for this position to set the record straight, and answer an identical set of questions related to the above.
The two candidates were made aware that their responses were going to be published on our website as well as on our social media pages.
We would like to note that both the questions and the answers were made in Maltese. Although the responses were professionally translated into English, please refer to the original language in case of any ambiguity.
2019 was a strong year for HIV activists in Malta, and for World AIDs Day on Sunday, the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement took to Tigne Point to reiterate their stance in the fight against stigma.
They were joined by the Malta Medical Students Association, a strong traditional ally in HIV Activism.
The newly-elected committee decided to revive their commitment of ensuring that human rights apply equally to everyone, with its statute making specific mention of safeguarding the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV).
Mark Josef Rapa, founder of the group PrEPingMalta has been advocating for access to PrEP, a preventative treatment which when taken daily stops the transmission of HIV by more than 99%, also covered the issues that arise from the virus itself and the stigma surrounding it in his column in the Independent.
PrEP has also led to a significant drop in HIV rates across a number of European cities, while Malta saw a rise of over 50% in 2018 and a reported 400 people being treated for the virus in hospitals around the island.
Following calls for easier access, PrEP finally became available for purchase in local pharmacies earlier this year. Until that point, people wanting to protect themselves had to buy the medication online. Name one other medication you’d be willing to buy off the internet, we’ll wait.
MGRM entered the forefront of Malta’s gay advocacy in September 2019, the same month that saw Checkpoint Malta set up – an NGO with hopes of extinguishing the taboo behind HIV and AIDs.
The launch was accompanied by a new website. The first of its kind in Malta, the site has since accumulated over 3,000 page views. Two of the most popular pages explain how to buy and use PrEP and a breakdown of how to cope with daily life post-diagnosis.
An interesting point to note is that while many groups have been campaigning for the public to increase their efforts in testing their sexual health regularly, the page on the site that details how to get tested is still only the third most popular.
This is further indicative of an assumption made regarding the national health policy.
While activism has been strengthening on the side of breaking stigma, 2019 still remains a poor year in regards to the collective health awareness of the country.
Statistics do indicate that people want to know their status, they want to protect themselves. As for those who are HIV+ still wishing for equal treatment, there is still a ways to go. The fight continues to align Malta’s HIV medical care with that of the rest of the continent.
Joe Grima, a representative within MGRM, said of the work the group has done so far:
“We can no longer accept that treatment which is no longer recommended by the European AIDS Clinical Society and World Health Organization is given out. February 2019 saw a missed opportunity with the launch of a flawed Request for Proposal (RFP) which indicated privatising HIV-related care.”
It is still unknown as to whether or not the RFP is still being considered, though expectations for a relaunch late this year still stand. MGRM and HIV Malta stress the urgency of this consideration, stating that unless the RFP includes PrEP trials, it is likely to fall behind as another missed opportunity.
Until then, the people march on. Through the Rainbow Support Services, MGRM and HIV Malta continue to provide free support to those affected by HIV and other members of queer communities.
The new year will see the launch of peer groups and buddy systems for people living with HIV. Support groups, together with constant dialogue with health professionals and policymakers, will continue to ensure that everyone is afforded the same dignity and standards worthy of a citizen of a modern European state in 2020.
When professional dancer Chakib Zidi landed in Malta in August 2017 as part of a European tour, he had no idea he would not be able to leave.
The 29-year-old is gay, something that is deemed illegal in his home country of Tunisia and is punishable by up to three years in jail.
He is among an undisclosed number of people seeking asylum under Malta’s Refugees Act based on fears their sexuality would result in degrading treatment or punishment in their country of origin.
“While I was working in Malta two years ago, I received an urgent message from my sister and lawyer via Facebook that my house in the Medina area of Tunis was being raided by the police,” he said.
“They also told me that my coffee shop was being searched. The police were looking for proof that I was gay. If I return, I could be arrested or forced to undergo a gay ‘test’ which involves an anal probe. So, I’ve had to seek asylum here in Malta.”
Since then, Chakib has been trying to find out if he will receive international protection.
He and his partner, theatre director Mohamad Ali ‘Dali’ Agrebi, who is also from Tunisia, live in Fgura with their dog Bobby. They are among a growing group of asylum seekers who are choosing to live openly gay.
“We are very happy here but are still living in a kind of limbo,” continues Chakib.
“Dali got his visa six months ago, but I am still waiting to receive international protection. This means I can’t travel, get a driver’s licence or even open a bank account. I feel a bit trapped as I can’t visit my family or friends. It also holds me back when it comes to accepting work abroad as a dancer or choreographer as I can’t leave.”
While Malta ranks first place in the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) index as Europe’s best country for LGBTQ+ law and policy, life is more difficult if you are a migrant or refugee.
According to the latest information from the European Fundamental Rights Agency, many gay people who are discriminated against for their ethnic origin or religion don’t bother reporting violence or hate speech.
“I am gay. This is who I am,” says Chakib.
“Yes, I wish I was born heterosexual but there is nothing I can do about that. It’s not my fault. I feel betrayed by my country but all I can do is hope that I can get official status soon so that I can move forward with my life.”
In Tunisia, human rights campaigners have called for an end to the criminalisation of same-sex conduct and forced anal examinations, but so far nothing has changed. I wish I was born heterosexual but there is nothing I can do about that
Despite this, Chakib and Dali feel they are among the lucky members of Malta’s migrant and asylum-seeking gay community. For this reason, they are working closely with Malta’s LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) in Mosta to help those struggling.
“It has shocked me to hear what some people have gone through since arriving in Malta,” says Chakib.
“One man – who was living in Ħal Far – says he felt very threatened there. He had no idea it was legal to be gay here and thought it only happened in places like the US. When he came out with us to places like Paceville, he couldn’t believe the bouncers allowed him into clubs when he was with us, because when he tried before he was turned away as he was black.
“We took him with us to gay events such as Pride and Lollipop and he was so happy.”
Dali, 26, says there is not enough help for vulnerable gay people who end up in Malta.
“We hope to set up a space just for migrants and plan to meet so people can be informed about the rights and laws they have here, as well as sexual and mental health services because they vary from country to country,” he said.
Alex Caruana, who works as a Community Outreach Officer, also at MGRM, agrees with Dali.
He says that some gay migrants face the double challenge of not being accepted because of the colour of their skin and sexuality.
“Often a person’s experience depends on the social-economic class they fall into, within Malta.
“For example, if you are in the arts community you might be OK. But if you are a gay, poor, black man working on a construction site, you are probably going to have a harder time,” he said.
Trying to find out exactly how many people are seeking asylum in Malta because they are gay is difficult – but this is something Dali feels also needs to change.
“It’s so hard to get the numbers and, when we ask, we are told it’s confidential. But if we knew more facts, I think it would be easier for us to know who we should reach out to and help,” he said.