MPs criminalise gay conversion therapy, minister hails public support against transphobia

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli praises public outcry and reaction to online attack on transgender activist Alex Caruana by Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin exponent Stephen Florian

The public’s reaction to the recent online attack by Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin exponent and university lecturer Stephen Florian on transgender activist Alex Caruana was to be lauded, according to Helena Dalli, minister for social dialogue and civil liberties.

Dalli, who was speaking in parliament in the second reading on the affirmation of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression bill, said that she and many other MPs had immediately condemned Florian’s attack, but insisted she had been pleased that the public’s reaction was equally critical.

The bill discussed establishes that gender identity issues and sexual orientation were not induced by any sort of mental illness and makes conversion therapy illegal.

Dalli said that the government’s work and commitment to eliminate bias and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was leaving a very positive impact in the daily lives of many families and their families.

She said it was parliament’s duty to discuss such bills and to do all it could to eliminate prejudice.

“No one has control over how they are born, and it is not right that some people suffer discrimination, bullying and other forms of intimidation because of how they were born,” she said.

Dalli said that the discrimination and harassment sometimes led to suicide.

“It is noteworthy that the suicide rate in the LGBTIQ community is about eight times higher than in the rest of the community, and that is indicative of what these people have to go through,” she said.

Health minister Chris Fearne praised the bill for putting Malta ahead of many other countries in illegalising conversion therapy but suggested that the recognised age of ‘vulnerable individuals’ as referred to in the bill, be reduced to 16 from 18.

Government whip Godfrey Farrugia noted that the bill criminalised all therapies in the field and suggested that a closer look at the wording might be called for as some beneficial medical therapies should not be confused with conversion, or repairative, therapy.

Opposition spokesman Clyde Puli and MP Karl Gouder said that the bill would officially confirm that being homosexual, or other sexual orientation, was not something to be ashamed or punished for.

The second reading of the bill was approved by both sides of the house.