The Opposition has presented a private member's bill to amend the Constitution and increase the protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Article 45 of the Constitution protects against discrimination based on race, colour or sex among others. The previous government had proposed changes based not just on sex, religion and political beliefs, but also on sexual orientation, and this was listed as Proposal 99 of the Nationalist electoral programme, deputy leader for parliamentary affairs Mario de Marco said during a press conference after the bill was presented to Speaker Anglu Farrugia.

Dr de Marco noted that a study carried out last year shows that 51 per cent of lgbt people in Malta felt harassed to discriminated because of their sexual orientation, a percentage higher than the EU average of 47 per cent.

He added that the government should welcome this amendment, which would see that no law could be discriminatory.

The bill was presented by Claudette Buttigieg who told the press conference the law can make a huge difference in people's lives. Some are not living their life in an open way as they live in fear of discrimination.

This bill ties to other initiatives taken by the previous government which extended the remit of the NCPE, amended the law to include homophobia as a crime, and started a process for launching a gender identity act.

The Labour government set up a consultative group to discuss civil unions, but the opposition has never received an invitation to participate in this committee's discussions, she added.

Human rights lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia helped draw up the bill.

MGRM, Aditus welcome proposed amendment

In a statement in the afternoon, the Malta Gay Rights Movement and Aditus welcome the proposed amendment.

They urge Parliament to also incorporate Constitutional amendments on the grounds of gender identity and expression to ensure that the same level of protection was afforded to transgender persons.

Aditus director Neil Falzon said: "This amendment, if approved, will have an important legal impact across all present and future legislation in Malta.

"Furthermore it unequivocally asserts that as a nation Malta fully endorses the principles of non-discrimination and equality, for the promotion of a society where all members are truly equal."




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