In 2004 Malta gained EU membership. Who would have thought that 12 years later, Malta will become the first European country to ban conversion therapy? Such therapy aims at changing an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation and the passed law states that neither sexual orientation nor gender identification can be classified as a disorder or disease that is subject to cure. People who offer such therapy now will be fined which, among other reasons, has earned Malta its spot among the most LGBTQ+ inclusive countries in Europe.
Here are three more reasons, why Malta deserves to be called progressive:
1. There are tons resources and websites offering queer tips and insights
People within the LGBTQ+ community who want to pay the country a visit certainly can make use of this comprehensive gay guide. On the website, you will find gay-friendly hotels, bars and even yacht charters. Do you want to get married in Malta? No problem, you will find a suitable wedding planner catering to your needs there as well. Malta also has a flourishing LGBTQ+ community. Are you interested in learning more about trans inclusive tips for the workplace or do you want to check out Malta’s queer arts scene? Various organisations and entities in Malta offer such resources.
2. Malta has Europe’s most progressive gay rights
As already mentioned, Malta has one of Europe’s most progressive gay rights. Interestingly, in this country where the majority is Catholic, divorce was only started to being allowed in 2011 and the topic of abortion is even more controversial. Where Malta was the most progressive country in banning conversion therapy, they are the only EU member that prohibits abortion in its entirety and the morning after pill only became available for sale in pharmacies in 2016. Despite that, when it comes to gay rights, Malta is ranked number one in the ILGA-Europe, in the matter of their respect of human rights and equality.
3. There are many LGBTQ+ friendly professionals trained in working with various gender identities and sexual orientations
LGBTQ+ individuals have specific needs when it comes to the kind of health care that they require. Thankfully, there are professionals in Malta who are specifically trained in the mental health services catering to queer people. This includes sex and relationship therapy as well as gynaecology, urology and endocrinology. At Willingness for example, you can even find help regarding speech training which is relevant for trans individuals as well as dating and life coaching. Check out the gender clinic here.
Malta has come a long way. There are certainly still reports of some issues surrounding the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, especially trans individuals can be systematically discriminated against while looking for a job or the treatment that they need. In the face of the rapid changes the country has made and the new bills they have passed, Malta is undeniably one of the most progressive countries in the face of the law. When it comes to the everyday acceptance and inclusion of queer individuals, we all must work together to be better allies or members of the community to foster a loving and caring environment for everyone to live their most truthful lives.
If you think you can benefit from professional support on this issue, you can reach out here.
Sara Felber is a Student of psychology from Graz, Austria interested in a variety of issues concerning sex, relationships and LGBTQ+ topics. She is currently researching guidelines on the sexuality of psychiatric inpatients and is interning at the Willingness Sex Clinic.
Government Services and Information. (2015, March 1). Malta To Have Europe’s Most Comprehensive Gender Identity, Gender Expression And Sex Characteristics Act. Doi.gov.mt. https://www.gov.mt/en/Government/DOI/Press%20Releases/Pages/2015/April/01/pr150698.aspx.
Worland, J. (2016, December 8). Conversion therapy: Malta BANS practice in first for Europe. Time. https://time.com/4595202/malta-conversion-therapy/.
Samuelson, K. (2016, December 15). Why Malta Has Europe’s most Progressive gay rights. Time. https://time.com/4597632/malta-gay-rights-conversion-ban/.