Malta is the only country in the world to satisfy all criteria for gay rights protection set by an international organisation in a report into state-sponsored homophobia.
The report, by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World), compiles data on laws from around the world that affect people on the basis of their sexuality.
Researchers looked at criteria such as the legalisation of same sex sexual acts; constitutional and employment protection; protection from hate crime and incitement; a ban on conversion therapy; and the availability of same sex marriage, civil unions, joint adoption and second parent adoption.
In a statement, the government highlighted Malta's first place, noting that it had introduced several legislative reforms in the sector.
Those reforms had placed Malta at the top of Europe when it came to gay rights, before it was elevated first worldwide, the government said.
The report says that 32 member states have laws in place to limit freedom of expression, including propaganda laws that prohibit the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexuality or identity, while 41 states have barriers in place to prevent non-government organisations from working towards equality for LGBTIQ+ people.
On the other hand, legislation that protects lesbian, gay and bisexual persons from discrimination and violence has expanded in recent years.