16-year-olds can now apply to change gender on official documents
Gay conversion therapy has been outlawed, with parliament this evening passing a Bill that criminalises any practice which seeks to change or repress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Malta is the first country in the EU to introduce such a ban.
The Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill imposes fines and jail terms for anyone advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person which performs any form of conversion practice.
In addition, the Bill affirms that no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.
Earlier this year, a Church position paper had stirred up controversy after its authors had argued that a ban on gay conversion therapy would violate a person’s right to receive treatment from a health professional.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna subsequently moved to quell protests against the Church position paper, making it clear that any therapy that went against people’s wishes was “a no go”.
Gender Identity Act amended
Non-Maltese prisoners and others kept in gender-segregated facilities can now live according to their gender identity, with parliament also passing a Bill recognising their right to self-identify their gender.
Amendments to the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act will also allow 16-year-olds to independently request a change in gender on official documents. Previously, the age limit was 18, with minors forced to file an application in court with the approval of their parents or guardians.