There are countless reasons to select Mediterranean island Malta as a holiday destination — the sun, the sea, the historic fortresses.
There’s also the country’s award-winning commitment to equality and inclusion.
This month, Malta has been rewarded with top billing on a respected Europe-wide charter of LGBTI freedom — scoring 90 / 100 in a system that tracks the impact of laws and policies on fundamental human rights.
Produced by ILGA-Europe, the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association, the ‘Rainbow Europe’ project assesses the direct impact on LGBTI people of key themes including hate crime and hate speech; asylum; family; and equality and non-discrimination.
It then provides each of the 49 countries in Europe with a score from 0% (gross violations of human rights) to 100% (respect of human rights and full equality).
Malta’s score, the highest on the list for the fourth year running, puts it far ahead of the second place Belgium, which scored 73 / 100 – and a world away from the 49th entry, last-placed Azerbaijan, which scored just 3 / 100.
It also makes Malta just one of 11 countries to receive a score higher than 50 / 100, a feat also achieved by countries including Spain (60), the UK (62) and Finland (69).
“We know what is needed and the formula for success is obvious: Laws and explicit policies matter,” commented Darienne Flemington, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board. “Political leadership matters. Add to this mix meaningful engagement with communities and civil society and you can make a real difference in the lives of LGBTI people.”
The recognition follows Malta’s pioneering work in 2016 to ban conversion therapy — a highly controversial practise to ‘cure’ a person’s sexuality. Explaining its position in a public consultation, the Maltese government said the therapies are “harmful practises” that are “dangerous to individual’s mental and physical health”.
The country has also legalised both same-sex adoption and marriage, and was the first EU member state to add gender identity as a protected category to its constitution.
Although keen to praise Malta’s success, ILGA-Europe issued a note of concern about countries “going backwards”. It notes Bulgaria has removed procedures for trans people to change their gender marker in official documents, and Poland has stopped providing access to medically-assisted reproduction for single women.
“The result is an increasingly unsafe and unsustainable environment for LGBTI organisations and human rights defenders in a growing number of countries,” the organisation adds.
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