This evening, Parliament approved two Bills which were presented by the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties: the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill, which will criminalise conversion practices as a deceptive and harmful act, and a Bill to amend the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act.
The Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill effectively criminalises conversion practices - any practice which aims to change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, by imposing fines and jail terms on those advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person which performs such practices. In addition, this Bill affirms that no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.
In order to achieve this, both Bills being considered prohibit the pathologisation of any sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Furthermore, the Bill amending the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act caters for non-Maltese individuals who are currently detained in gender segregated facilities and are not residing in the section which reflects their lived gender. These amendments will allow such individuals to have their lived gender recognised by means of an affidavit, and to continue to live in detention in accordance with the gender specified in this affidavit.
This Bill will also lower the age of persons who may independently request a change in gender on their official documents from eighteen to sixteen. In practice, this will mean that persons who are sixteen years or older will not need to file an application in Court, with the approval of their parents or guardians, to this effect.
This amendment is yet another improvement in the system through the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act, and is in line with the actions promised in the LGBTIQ Action Plan 2015-2017.