One did not require a medical intervention to be recognised in the gender with which one identified, according to the Gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics Bill, Minister for Civil Liberties Helena Dalli told Parliament.
The Bill, described as ground-breaking by several international organisations, would improve the quality of life of those who were considered less than others, Dr Dalli said as she was piloting it. It would improve the result to the LGBTIQ community.
The government received 25 submissions. Although they had different views, the majority confirmed that the Bill was in the right direction.
Dr Dalli said that the Bill would ensure the right enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights".
Noting that several governments systematically discriminated against and removed the liberty of groups of individuals, Dr Dalli said that the government presented the Bill for knowledge to reign over ignorance, for justice to reign over injustice and to build a society on the respect of human rights.
She referred to a case of a six-year-old child who sought to present herself as a girl at school. Her request was met positively and experts said that it was in her best interest to present herself as a girl. One should use this case to show that when everyone understood the issue involved, one would be improving the life of another person.
Dr Dalli referred to other cases where an 18-year-old girl found difficulties during interviews since her academic certificates were addressed to a male name notwithstanding that she had changed her sex on her ID card.
Another person had to take her male friend to hospital so that when he would stand up when a male’s name was called.
Dr Dalli said that the Bill addressed these difficulties.
She said that one was not doing these people a favour but was giving them what the rest of society enjoyed by right.
All persons had gender identity and in the majority of cases, it corresponded to the sex in which one was born. Yet this was not the case to transgender people.
Minister Dalli said that the bill also addressed the issue of intersex persons who could not be medically classified as male or female. The bill was giving recognition and dignity to these individuals. She said that the LGBTIQ community had made proposals on gender identity four years ago but up to 2013 had been ignored.
She referred to a court decision in the UK which also led the Maltese government to seek agreement with Ms Joanne Cassar to withdraw her case against Malta in the European Court of Human Rights.
The bill regulated the procedure for change of gender even of minors, gave recognition to decisions on gender and to amendments of legal documents.
Among other things, it introduced the expression of gender in the list of grievances under the criminal code. Another amendment referred to the repeal of the Register for gender established in 2010 which now was no longer needed.