Category: News

Transgender Healthcare: Leaving nobody behind

The mantra associated with the Sustainable Development Goals is that of leaving nobody behind. In taking bold steps to develop health care services for transgender persons, we are effectively giving testimony to the fact that, for this Government, leaving nobody behind is not merely a slogan but is something we work to achieve assiduously every day.

Transgender inclusive health care can profoundly increase the quality of life for transgender persons. This service may only have an impact on a few hundred persons and their families but, for us, every single individual and their needs is of paramount importance.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of witnessing first-hand the clinic for gender well-being delivering services to transgender persons. This service is the result of months of hard work by a multi-disciplinary team of health and social care professionals who took up the challenge of planning clinical services for transgender persons. The development of these services is being implemented as laid out in the transgender health care policy document.

The document was launched for consultation in April last year and in-depth discussions were held with transgender persons and civil society organisations representing them. We also liaised with the LGBTIQ Council and the Malta Gay Rights Movement. I believe that the manner in which we worked to formulate this policy is an excellent example of the way in which health systems will continue to be shaped in the 21st century.

In the design and development of services for transgender persons, health professionals embarked on a process of co-creation. This means that while scientific evidence remains the backbone of clinical services, planners and health system policy-makers are increasingly acknowledging that service users are experts in their own right and have a clear contribution to make in service design. I am grateful to the professionals and the service user representatives who worked closely to develop clinical pathways that will primarily ensure the safety and effectiveness of the interventions provided but will also respect the dignity and legitimate expectations of service users.

At the start of the year we changed the legislation on entitlement to medication by including gender identity and sex  characteristics-related conditions in the list of conditions for free treatment. As a consequence, transgender persons who have had to pay for their treatment for years are now able to obtain treatment free of charge through the gender clinic.

However, transgender persons do not merely require medication or surgical interventions. Indeed, the social, psychological and emotional support provided to transgender persons as they embark on the difficult gender transitioning journey are equally important to ensure success. In fact, persons may be referred to access services  by doctors, psychologists or social workers, since some persons will opt only for psycho-social support and intervention whilst others will opt to undergo surgical interventions to align their physical characteristics with their gender identity.

In developing these services, we have drawn on the experience and assistance of other countries, tailoring the programme to fit our contextual realities and our legal framework. There is still, however, much that remains to be achieved. In the coming months we aim to continue providing training for our multi-disciplinary team, as well as more generic awareness training throughout our health service. We will also start offering surgical interventions where these are required. We aim to eventually have a service that will be considered a model for other countries to follow.

None of this would have been achieved had we not put in place the necessary legal framework that makes it possible to change legal gender. We sought to transform civil liberties in this country and we did. Our track record speaks for itself.

Mr Fearne is the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Health

Source: independent.com.mt

30 persons have used transgender clinic since its opening two months ago

The clinic is served by a number of medical professionals and offers counselling, hormone therapy and surgery advice

Thirty persons are making use of a transgender clinic, staffed by a multi-disciplinary team, since its opening in November.

The clinic, located in Mtarfa, offers services including counselling, hormone therapy and advice on surgery to people who identify as trans.

Health Minister Chris Fearne said the clinic was opened with the aim of catering for the unique medical needs which such persons might have and which were previously not being addressed by the public health system.

“Professionals such as endocrinologists, social workers, surgeons, family therapists, nurses, and a speech and language pathologist are available at the clinic to give their advice and services to those who need it,” Fearne highlighted.

Anyone entitled to use the public health system in Malta is also offered the necessary free medicine on the Government Formulary List at the clinic.

The clinic was opened on 14 November after the government conducted a public consultation on the needs of trans persons in April to June last year.

A final document on transgender medical care, covering areas such as a strategy for the development or related health services, and gender-affirming healthcare, has also been issued.

Source: maltatoday.com.mt

New “safe space” for LGBTIQ families to share experiences

New initiative launched by President’s foundation

Most parents would step in if they heard one of their children call the other “gay” during an argument, but for Neil Falzon, himself gay, the point took on an added importance.

“I asked him if he knew what ‘gay’ meant, and he said he didn’t but he’d heard it at school,” Dr Falzon, who recently adopted two children with his husband, said at the launch of a new initiative for LGBTIQ families by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.

“I slowly explained it to him, and explained that it wasn’t a bad word but that some people used it like that, and then I asked him if he knew anyone who was gay. He thought for a bit and then said that he didn’t. So I explained to him slowly that papà and papà were in fact gay.

“That was the first time I really realised that there was a need for certain discussions about the identity of the family and also about the conversations and social relations children are going to have at school.”

Dr Falzon, also the director of the Aditus Foundation, was speaking at San Anton Palace at the launch of a “safe space” where LGBTIQ families can share their experiences in a secure environment without fear of judgement or prejudice.

The project, Rainbow Families, has been set up by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) to coincide with next month’s Pride Week.

Read more: Video launched to help overcoming prejudice towards LGBTIQ families

Monthly meetings will be held where families can learn from each other’s joys and the difficulties they encounter. The project will also provide participants with the opportunity to engage in debates and discussions facilitated by professionals.

President’s Foundation director Ruth Farrugia said that through its work with LGBTIQ families in recent years, the foundation had realised the need for a space for families, and especially children, to share experiences with others similar to theirs. 

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca highlighted the importance of the initiative in helping to eradicate the stigma that still exists around LGBTIQ families in Malta and foster understanding and common ground between families of different make-ups.

MGRM coordinator Colette Farrugia Bennett and Alex Caruana, an MGRM member who identifies as transgender, also spoke of the need to reduce isolation for children who are gender non-conforming, as well as for their parents.

The first Rainbow Families meeting will take place on September 13 at 6pm at San Anton Palace. To register, send an e-mail to pfws.opr@gov.mt or call on 21484462.

Source: timesofmalta.com

Vuċi għall-qraba ta’ persuni LGBTIQ

Jiem qabel ma pajjiżna jinxtegħel bil-kuluri tal-qawsalla għall-ġimgħa magħrufa bħala l-Pride Week, il-Fondazzjoni tal-President għall-Ġid tas-Soċjetà nediet proġett bl-isem ta’ Rainbow Families Network.

Proġett li fiċ-ċentru tiegħu hemm il-qraba ta’ persuni LGBTIQ, li se jkunu qed jiltaqgħu fi spazju sikur fil-ġnien privat tal-Palazz ta’ San Anton.Hemmhekk, għadd ta’ professjonisti se jmexxu sessjonijiet interattivi għal dawn il-familji – li anki jekk pajjiżna huwa minn ta’ quddiem fid-dinja fil-qasam tal-inklużjoni u drittijiet indaqs, xorta għadhom qed jaffaċċjaw numru ta’ sfidi soċjali – bħal bullyingstigma, diskriminazzjoni u esklużjoni.

Il-President ta’ Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca qalet li dan il-proġett mhux biss se jkun ta’ benefiċċju għall-familji ta’ persuni LGBTIQ għax jingħataw kuraġġ jaffaċċjaw il-ħajja, iżda se jkun ta’ esperjenza pożittiva wkoll għall-professjonisti.

Source: one.com.mt

LGBTIQ families may discuss and receive professional advice at President’s Palace

The garden of the President’s Palace at San Anton will become the venue for meetings of the Rainbow Families Network, established through the initiative of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. The network will bring together LGBTIQ families in a secure environment to discuss, among others, their challenges and to receive professional advice. During the network’s launching, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca stressed on the need for a mentality change so that Malta’s achievements in this sector will reach their fullness.

Same-sex couples who are upbringing children and families with LGBTIQ children will be able to exchange their experiences in a secure environment….away from prejudices which at times they have to face.

The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and the LGBTIQ movement launched the Rainbow Families Network. The MGRM coordinator, Colette Farrugia Bennett, said that the project started after a number of LGBTIQ families confined with the movement that, on many occasions, they find it difficult to speak about their lives in an insecure environment.

“There are families out there who are living a very normal life by themselves; maybe they are not in contact with other families who have similar characteristics and believe that once they meet, they can learn more on how one can lead better certain similar challenges”, Colette Farrugia Bennett said.

The network will not only bring these families together, but they will also meet with professionals who assist them to address their challenges due to the sexual orientation of any member or members of their family.

Ms Farrugia Bennett added, “As a social worker I work a lot with families with trans children and youths, and I realize their feeling of loneliness. When I gathered together families, due to consultation or a personal request, I saw the result of parents speaking to other parents”.

Alex Caruana, a trans person, said he believes that Rainbow Families Network will be of assistance to trans youths who many times feel lost and alone, while their parents are provided with more information about their children’s body and their wish to change sex.

LGBTIQ Neil Falzon, parent of two children aged 11 and 8, spoke on the difference in values such as equality and the respect children receive in families.

President Coleiro Preca said that a change in society’s mentality is needed to ensure that laws, which placed the country in the forefront in the inclusion sector, are implemented. The President added that this network may be opened for other families in the future.

Source: tvm.com.mt

Malta remains role model in EU for LGBT inclusivity

Malta has been a top-scorer in some of this year’s results in LGBT rights studies.

The island – often described as ‘gay-friendly’ – has always been seen to strive towards greater inclusivity for all ages, races and genders, through multiple forms of legislation that work towards furthering rights for the LGBT community.

Since Malta passed the Bill for same-sex marriage in 2017, the country has then gone on to make further progress.

Because of this, the island had another inspiring statistic to add to its ever-growing collection, which was released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in May.

It found that Malta scored over 91 per cent in the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe LGBTIQ Index, which places it at the top spot out of 49 countries, for a third consecutive year.

Malta was rated 100 per cent in categories such as Civil Society Space, Legal Gender Recognition and Bodily Integrity and Hate Crime and Hate Speech.

For the Equality & Non-Discrimination and Family categories, it received very positive results of 90 per cent and 89 per cent.

The island’s widespread accolades come from the public’s increased embracement of the gay community.  

A poll conducted in 2016 showed that 65 per cent of Maltese people were in favour of same-sex marriage, a huge rise from 18 per cent in similar findings back in 2006.

Many believe, however, that the awareness and inclusion of the LGBT community and those within such community, should begin at an early age.

Maltese schools are required to meet the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act legislation launched in June 2015 by the Maltese government, which is a comprehensive education policy focused on the needs of trans, gender variant and intersex children.

Malta was rated 100 per cent in categories such as Civil Society Space

In a recent report from the LGBTIQ Inclusive Education Report, it said that “all young people have the right to education, but research shows that this is still far from being a reality for many LGBTIQ learners. We firmly believe that the LGBTIQ Education Index and Report can play a vital role in changing this.”

However, Malta seems to be a country that is making great changes to this idea, with it receiving perfect scores in nine out of 10 categories that the report analysed.

The categories included: anti-discrimination law applicable to education, inclusive national curricula, partnerships between governments and civil society, support systems, right to choose gender and teacher training on LGBTIQ awareness. While the Maltese education system is facilitating LGBTIQ curricula and policies, some countries are still far behind such progressions.

The report showed that some countries such as Armenia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland received scores of zero out of 10, have no regulation or policies to tackle bullying and harassment and promote inclusivity.

There was even a case in Azerbaijan where a psychologist hit a child in front of the parents, because of their toy preferences and the report says that incidents such as this “shows clearly the oppositional position of Azerbaijani government regarding LGBT rights”.

Source: independent.com.mt

Dignity is a human right in prison, too

In a damning indictment of Malta’s prison conditions, the Constitutional Court has just awarded seven transgender inmates EUR30,000 in compensation for decades of ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’ at the Corradino Correctional Facility. Their lawyers NEIL FALZON and CARLA CAMILLERI, of Aditus Foundation, outline the implications of this ruling for human rights

It has been described as a “hard-hitting ruling” which has exposed certain hitherto unseen realities of prison life in Malta. But from your clients’ point of view… what is the significance of this week’s Constitutional Court judgment?

NF: In a nutshell, the Constitutional Court ruled that the treatment suffered by our clients amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment: in the way they had been allocated to the male section, and the experiences they went through there. The ruling also said that, by disclosing their gender history, the prison authorities had violated the right to privacy: because the law very clearly states that one’s gender history is private, and should not be disclosed… especially where the disclosure could lead to abuse, as in fact happened. The court also specified that their rights were violated, not simply in an abstract context… but specifically because they were transgender women. So [the human rights violation] was on the basis of discrimination…

As a result, the court awarded your clients the sum of 5,000 Euro each – 30,000 Euro in total. Before turning to the wider implications of the ruling: do you think the compensation is sufficient, given the severity of the human rights breaches?

NF: In an abstract sense, we don’t think it’s enough. But in the Maltese context, where the courts have certain parameters by which they give compensation, we’re comfortable with the amount. Our clients are still discussing with us whether they are comfortable or not, so I can’t comment on their behalf…

CC: But I think what our clients really wanted was recognition of what they had suffered. That was the fundamental issue; which they actually got, and even the fact that the government will not be appealing the verdict is an even bigger confirmation, for them, that there was a serious breach. And government has acknowledged this…

NF: [Nodding] Our clients had spent years, some of them decades, recounting their stories to the media, prison authorities, ministers, religious authorities… and constantly being either disbelieved, ignored or set aside. So finally you have an independent authority – and a very high court at that – looking at the facts as presented, and not only acknowledging their side of the story… but saying, ‘It’s true: we believe you’…. and that obviously, what happened should not have happened. The mere acknowledgement that their story was heard, and given a sense of reality… that, for them, meant a lot.

But the same ruling also exposes some apparent anomalies. For instance: the Gender Identity Bill was passed in 2016, and a policy was then drawn up for its implementation in prison. And yet, the complaints persisted even afterwards. Does this mean the policy was a failure?

NF: The case obviously comes in a much wider context. We’ve been talking to these women for a number of years, and we’ve also been talking to government to try to improve their situation: from many years before the law was passed. So even in a situation when they were unable to change their ID documents, we still insisted they should be moved to the female section. We told government: ignore the documentation, and go by their identified gender: especially their appearance. Because that, ultimately, is what was at the root of the problem… But let’s face it: it can’t be an easy problem to solve. The proposed solution was to transfer transgender inmates to the women’s section, because they ‘identify as women’. But what if the existing inmates object, on the grounds that they themselves don’t identify the newcomers as women?

NF: Dealing with transgender inmates is a problem all prison authorities face. It’s not just a Maltese problem, but a problem everywhere… because of the issues you raised, with regards to other inmates and how they might relate with transgender people; and even with regard to security officers who have to conduct body-searches, etc. There’s an evident concern that we acknowledge and appreciate.

We feel, however, that once the law acknowledges your right to identify your own gender – irrespective of your physical characteristics, but based on your inner feelings about who you really are – then the institutions need to adapt their systems to make sure your rights are fundamentally respected.

We need to underline that gender is an inherent part of your identity; you cannot give it up for the sake of an institution that you’re living in. The structures need to adapt themselves to your rights… the primary principle being your human dignity.

So, what we advocated was: move them to the female section; but obviously look into issues such as training for security officers, to make sure they’re comfortable with the situation, and can deal with it. Today there are many security officers who have received training, and who have dealt with transgender inmates, and they’re relatively comfortable with the situation. And if security situations arise vis-avis the other inmates, deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

But don’t assume there are going to be problems; and on the basis of that assumption, deny people their rights simply because of a fear you might have…

One aspect that emerges clearly from the ruling is that the degrading treatment did not come solely from other inmates, but also from prison warders; and that the refusal to confront this problem pre-2016 seems to reflect an ingrained prejudice against transgender people on the part of the prison management as a whole. How true is this perception?

NF: Again, just to give some context: the experiences our clients recounted go back many, many years. There’s a long list of complaints dating back 20 years, in some cases. Historically, the starting point would have been in the 1980s, and the end-point would be quite recently, when the case was filed. From the institution’s perspective, even once the law was adopted there still remained a level of transphobia in prison.

And I think there’s also a level of homophobia, racism, xenophobia… the prison environment does have a number of elements which are problematic for people who don’t generally conform to society. In prison, obviously, their vulnerability is exacerbated. That is why we were really keen on seeing the policy adopted after the law.

Because the policy tells prison authorities: we have a law; you need to take steps to make sure the law is respected… with regard to how people are called; what pronouns are used; what namecalling you use during the rollcall; what type of hairdresser can people use, what clothes can they wear… elements which some might think are superficial, but are really about how your gender is respected in a particular institution.

Meanwhile, those who did choose to be transferred to the female section found that they would have to lose certain rights and privileges: including having a job, and access to education. This seems to indicate that female inmates have less access to such rights and privileges than men. Is this the case?

CC: Certain jobs and training opportunities are offered to men and women separately; so the work opportunities – which are often needed to be able to buy medicine, for example – are not the same. They are ‘gendered’, in the sense that men are, for example, offered carpentry and IT-related training, while women are offered sewing, or hairdressing. The problem in the case of our clients was that once they changed section, they were not allowed to carry on the jobs and courses they were doing or following at the male section. They also realised that, once they moved to the female section, they had less time outdoors… this is something else that this judgment revealed.

Wait, does that mean that female prisoners in general get to spend less time outdoors than men?

CC: In the prison section… yes.

But isn’t that just a blatant case of gender discrimination? If so, how can it possibly justified?

CC: There is a problem. Part of it is simply that the female section is very, very small. There are far fewer female inmates; and strangely enough, in this context it becomes more difficult to accommodate smaller numbers of people. All the same, this only came to light in the first place because there were inmates who experienced both sections…

NF: Another issue that gets complained about in the female section is that, if you look at the physical structure… because it’s so much smaller, it’s dormitorybased, rather than cell-based. In the male section, there’s a mix: when you have so many more people [Note: Male/female prison population figures stand at roughly 500+ males to 50-max females] you will need different sections, depending on the crimes, the seriousness of security threats, etc. The female section is largely a dormitory: which one can understand from a logistical perspective, as it makes things easier.

But from a personal privacy perspective, spending years of your life living in a shared space, the size of this room, with other people… people you might not get along with; or you might not want to get along with… or you just might want your personal space. Bear in mind that prison does cause a certain level of mental stress and anxiety, and people do need some time alone, just for reflection, etc. That in itself is something that inmates keep complaining about. The structures are not conducive to them living a dignified, quiet life. But this goes beyond our case; and we want to emphasise that we are not an NGO specialising in conditions in prison…

No, but you do specialise in human rights; and surely, these are human rights issues…

NF: Agreed, but we don’t go to prison on a regular basis to monitor conditions. There’s a limit to how much we can comment on what’s going there today…

Fair enough: but these conditions have now been confirmed by a court ruling; and while your clients have been compensated, the actual injustice has not been independently investigated. Shouldn’t there be action taken as a result of this ruling?

NF: With human rights judgments, the way they are approached is that they are never the end of a situation: they’re generally the beginning of a process. In this case, it comes in the middle of a dialogue we’ve been having with government for many years. Some things have improved, and the court acknowledged the improvements. In fact, the court specifically ordered the director of prisons to continue the work that he (now she) has been conducting in prison.

For us, the judgment gives us the drive to tell government we need to sit down: first of all, to explore what happens, and is going to happen, to all transgender people in prison… because they’re still there. And more transgender people will be going to prison: that’s a fact.

So we need to see what needs to be done to avoid a repeat of this situation. But in the wider context, someone – if not us, another NGO or entity – needs to sit down with government to look at prison in general: the physical conditions, living conditions, employment, education… the whole idea that you’re meant to live in dignity, with a view to eventually reintegrating into society.

That, ultimately, is the aim of prison. Is it happening, or is it not? That’s what we need to be asking…

What about the perpetrators, though? We now have evidence that there were systemic human rights abuses at Corradino prison over a period of years, if not decades… shouldn’t we be talking about criminal charges against those responsible?

NF: Now you’re touching on the subject of impunity. In this case, in terms of ‘perpetrators’ there is quite a broad range of individuals and entities. Starting at ministerial level, going all the way down to the security guard level. The fact that ministries were aware of the policy that placed transgender people in the male section; and endorsed, or ordered, or enforced that policy… for us, that’s a direct line of responsibility.

You are putting an individual in a state of exposure to human rights violations. But because of the way the Maltese legal system is structured, the minister was taken out of the case, insofar as responsibility is concerned. Maltese law states that it is the director of the institution who is responsible. From a human rights perspective, we think that there needs to be more political accountability at higher levels.

The prison director was not himself taking decisions like that… there was a political context. That makes you understand how frustrated our clients are: that after so many years… yes, they have a great judgment…but as the judge himself pointed out, there is a limit to what a court ruling can do to restore your dignity and sense of worth.

Source: maltatoday.com.mt

Gender Incongruence removed from Mental Health Chapter through ICD 11

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that, through the International Classification of Diseases 11, Gender Incongruence, previously Gender Dysphoria, will no longer be considered a mental health issue, but one of sexual health.

The WHO’s Coordinator of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research Dr Lale Say explained, “It was taken out of Mental Health Disorders because we had better understanding this wasn’t actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma. And in order to reduce the stigma, while also insuring access to medical health interventions, this was placed to the Sexual Health chapter in the new ICD.”

Say added that this decision was based on the review of existing evidence from the scientific and concerned communities.

Community manager for Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) Clayton Mercieca viewed this as a positive. He is, however, unhappy that this still stigmatises trans and non-binary persons considering it still pathologises these identities.

“We believe that such persons should be given full right and freedom to determine their gender identity without medical assessment”, he said, adding that ARC believes trans individuals should still be given the necessary treatment without being pathologised, “in order to live the identity they determine themselves to be.”

In July 2016, Julia Ehrt, executive director of Transgender Europe, suggested that the childhood diagnoses be removed from the ICD 11. She said: “Children need the freedom to be who they are. But before puberty there is no need for medical treatment and therefore no need for inclusion in the ICD.”

Responding to this, Mercieca said that children as young as five have shown a desire to change their gender. “In this regard they should be given full social and emotional support by their parents and school, and this includes giving them the freedom to choose the uniforms they wish to wear and be assigned to schools of the gender with which they indentify”.

The Malta Independent on Sunday contacted the Health Ministry for comments on whether this change would affect current care procedures and guidelines and, seeing that it is no longer considered a mental illness, would this have any effect on state-funded care.

In reply, the Ministry clarified that “Malta has become a beacon for other countries with respect to LGBTIQ rights. To this effect, the Government’s policy on transgender services is in line with the re-classification of gender incongruence.”

The Nationalist Party did not respond to a request for comment on the issue.

Source: independent.com.mt

Id-drittijiet LGBTIQ idaħħlu lil Malta f’suq turistiku ġdid

“Esperjenzi li għandna nkunu kburin bihom” – dan kien il-qofol ta’ konferenza li saret aktar kmieni dan ix-xahar f’Londra u li kienet ta’ suċċess enormi għall-Awtorità Maltija għat-Turiżmu.

Il-konferenza Proud Experiences saret permezz ta’ kollaborazzjoni mal-uffiċċju tal-MTA fl-Ingilterra u l-Irlanda, flimkien ma’ rappreżentanti tal-MTA fl-Amerka ta’ Fuq. Li Malta hija destinazzjoni ideali għat-turiżmu ftit tista’ tiddibattih. Però l-kunċett ta’ reklamar ta’ Malta bħala destinazzjoni ideali għall-persuni LGBTIQ huwa relattivament ġdid. Infatti din kienet l-ewwel darba li l-MTA ipparteċipat, bħala waħda mill-isponsors ewlenin, f’konferenza ta’ dan it-tip iffukata speċifikament fuq is-suq Ingliż. L-MTA diġà għandha esperjenza f’konferenzi bħalma huma l-konvenzjoni globali annwali l-ILGTA.

F’Londra, quddiem udjenza internazzjonali, kien rikonoxxut il-fatt li Malta żammet postha għat-tielet darba konsekuttiva fl-ewwel post fil-European Rainbow Index; sistema internazzjonali ta’ klassifikazzjoni. L-MTA wasslet il-messaġġ lill-aġenti tal-ivvjaġġar, ditti kbar u esperti mill-industrija li kienu preżenti.

Kurjuża fuq dan il-kunċett, din il-gazzetta tkellmet f’aktar dettall mal-MTA. Spjegaw li ġeneralment, vjaġġaturi LGBTIQ ikollhom aktar dħul disponibbli biex jonfqu meta jivvjaġġaw, peress li l-koppja tkun magħmula minn żewġ adulti li jaħdmu, ħafna drabi mingħajr tfal dipendenti fuqhom. Din tfisser li jkunu jistgħu jivvjaġġaw aktar spiss u normalment mhux fi staġuni peak.

Peress li pajjiżna riċentement avvanza bi kbir id-drittijiet għall-komunità LGBTIQ, u issa qegħdin fil-quċċata tal-European Rainbow index, għandna messaġġ importanti għall-vjaġġaturi LGBTIQ u nistgħu nippromwovu l-Gżejjer Maltin bħala destinazzjoni sigura.

Dawk li attendew, partikolarment wara li ntwera dokumentarju qasir fuq id-drittijiet għall-komunità LGBTIQ, infexxew f’applaws mill-qalb. Ir-rispons mill-barranin kien kliem ta’ tifħir dwar Malta. Ir-rappreżentanti tal-MTA esprimew sens ta’ kburija għaliex kien apprezzat il-fatt li qegħdin quddiem nett fir-rigward tad-drittijiet LGBTIQ. Wara li ntwera d-dokumentarju, ħafna nies avviċinaw ir-rappreżentanti tal-MTA u qalu li huma interessati jiġu Malta. Għaldaqstant, talbu informazzjoni biex ikunu jistgħu jagħmlu dan.

Fil-2012, Malta kienet lejn l-aħħar tal-European Rainbow Index, post biss fuq l-Ażerbajġan (li issa huma l-aħħar minn 49 pajjiż), u l-messaġġ għall-vjaġġaturi LGBTIQ ma kien tajjeb xejn. Sal-2016, Malta telgħet sal-quċċata tal-klassifika u permezz ta’ dan, beda jkun possibbli li Malta tattira nies mis-settur LGBTIQ. Il-Gvern ta’ Malta issa ħa passi li huma meqjusin bħala eżempju għad-dinja. Biex nagħtu kuntest, minn 53 pajjiż tal-Commonwealth, 36 minnhom għadhom jikkunsidraw l-omosesswalità bħala delitt, u għalhekk, Malta qed tkun rikonoxxuta bħala pajjiż progressiv. Malta llum hija meqjusa bħala pajjiż li tilqa’ lil kulħadd, irrispettivament mid-diversità tagħhom.

Malta hija destinazzjoni ġdida għal ħafna vjaġġaturi minn madwar id-dinja, li issa qed isiru jafu b’pajjiżna permezz tax-xogħol tal-MTA. L-Awtorità spjegat li vjaġġaturi LGBTIQ mhumiex differenti f’rigward x’jixtiequ minn btala, ħlief li jridu jkunu siguri u jkollhom il-libertà jivvjaġġaw ma’ min iridu. Vjaġġaturi LGBTIQ jiġu minn kull età, minn kull klassi soċjali u minn livelli ta’ edukazzjoni differenti. Uħud jiġu għall-bajjiet, oħrajn għal avvenimenti u saħansitra għat-temp xemxi, waqt li oħrajn jiġu għall-kultura, għall-ikel, għall-għadis, għall-istorja ta’ Malta u hemm ħafna li jiġu għal ftit minn kollox!

Hemm min jiġi wkoll biex jiżżewweġ. Dan huwa settur li jħalli ħafna flus fil-but tal-lokali, u dan japplika għaż-żwieġ bejn nies tal-istess sess jew sess differenti. Dan huwa l-każ partikolarment jekk il-koppja ġġib magħha l-familja u l-ħbieb biex jiċċelebraw il-jum speċjali tagħhom.

Dan huwa niċċa tat-turiżmu importanti li jgħin lill-ekonomija tal-pajjiż. It-turisti li jiġu Malta f’dawn iċ-ċirkostanzi jkunu kkunsidrati turisti ta’ kwalità.

Ħafna destinazzjonijiet turistiċi qed jaraw il-potenzjal li jattiraw nies mis-swieq LGBTIQ, però huma ftit li verament huma LGBTIQ friendly u minħabba f’hekk, ma jistgħux jikkonvinċu n-nies iżuru d-destinazzjoni tagħhom. Bħalissa, Malta qed tissupera destinazzjonijiet turistiċi oħrajn, u permezz ta’ dan, nistgħu nattiraw nies LGBTIQ minn madwar id-dinja. Waqt li t-tibdil fil-liġijiet jippreżenta lil Malta bħala pajjiż LGBTIQ friendly, in-nies Maltin stess iridu jkunu ospitabbli. Skont l-Ewrobarometru, fl-2006, 18% biss tal-Maltin kienu favur żwieġ bejn nies tal-istess sess, imma sal-2015, il-persentaġġ żdied sa 65%. Is-soċjetà Maltija nbidlet u għadha qed tinbidel. Il-bidliet fil-liġijiet segwew it-tibdil fis-soċjetà.

Importanti li nifhmu li meta nitkellmu fuq turiżmu speċifiku għas-settur LGBTIQ, ma nkunux qed noħolqu diskriminazzjoni. L-MTA tixtieq biss tavża lil parti mis-soċjetà, li aktar spiss milli le tbati minn diskriminazzjoni, li l-messaġġ hu li Malta huwa pajjiż sigur u jilqa’ lil kulħadd.

L-ikbar kompetituri ta’ Malta f’dan is-settur huma Gran Canaria, Mykonos u Tel Aviv. Xi bliet oħrajn li issa qed jippromwovu ruħhom bħala LGBTIQ friendly huma Valencia u Stokkolma. L-MTA wettqet ħafna riċerka dwar is-suq LGBTIQ, biex ir-reklamar li tuża jirrappreżenta lil Malta b’mod xieraq. Ħadmet ukoll biex ġabet lejn Malta ġurnalisti mir-rivisti LGBTIQ biex jesperjenzaw pajjiżna u jiktbu dwaru. L-MTA ħadmet bis-sħiħ biex tattira il-Gay Festival internazzjonali TropOut lejn Malta, li huwa avveniment irreklamat madwar l-Ewropa kollha. Barra minn hekk, Malta hija wkoll sponsor ta’ Brighton Pride 2018, li huwa rikonoxxut bħala l-ikbar Pride Festival fir-Renju Unit.

Fi kliem il-Kap tal-Marketing u Deputat CEO tal-MTA, Carlo Micallef, l-esperjenzi li qed toffri Malta huma fil-vera sens tal-kelma indimentikabbli, fil-mod li bih il-pajjiż jgħaqqad esperjenzi kulturali u ta’ divertiment, f’ambjent mill-isbaħ u f’kuntest ta’ libertà assoluta tal-espressjoni tal-individwu.

Source: one.com.mt

Embryo Protection Act amendments pass through Parliament

Government’s proposed controversial amendments to the Embryo Protection Act passed through Parliament this evening, with 34 votes in favour, and 27 against.

Three government ministers were abroad, as were three Opposition MPs.

The proposals, first announced earlier this year, will see the introduction of embryo freezing and adoption. The amendments had initially included altruistic surrogacy, however, Health Minister Chris Fearne recently announced that this will be presented at a later stage under a separate Bill. In addition, other changes were recently made. the anonymity previously proposed for gamete and ova donation was partially lifted when compared with earlier versions of the bill, meaning that children conceived as a result of medically assisted pregnancy will be allowed to find out who their biological parents are, once they reach 18. 

The leader of the opposition Adrian Delia said, prior to the vote, that he was allowing his party to vote freely over amendments proposed by government to the Embryo Protection Act. Speaking at a press conference in Parliament, Delia stressed that the law would be dictating death before birth.

He said when there are issues of ethics and morality he will give a free vote, and invited the Prime Minister to do the same in this situation.

“This is a law which creates inequality before birth” Delia said. He added that such amendments will affect children’s rights and will no longer protect them even after birth. “A law which is destroying the concept of family and destroying the structure of society so much so that tomorrow we will not recognise it”.

“This is a government which insists on creating a soulless state” the leader of the opposition said adding that the government has failed to listen or explain why they it is proposing it.

“We will continue to fight against this law and be opposed to this law” Delia concluded.

Health Minister Chris Fearne, in a press conference of his own, said that the law as is has problems, and stressed that passing this law will give more women the chance to give birth.

Turning to gamete donation, Fearne said this will provide the opportunity for even more families to have children. He said that the law also removes discrimination against single parents by choice, and LGBTIQ persons. He also mentioned giving rights to the children, allowing them to know the name of the donor by the age of 18.

Source: independent.com.mt