Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Malta MP Introduces Bill To Allow Administrative Gender Change

Looks like the drama that Joanne Cassar went through recently in terms of her four year battle to protect her right to marry will have a hopefully positive outcome for Maltese transpeople.

Maltese MP Evarist Bartolo announced during a recent press conference that he will be introducing a Private Members Bill entitled the Gender Identity Act that will make it easier for trans people to change the gender designation on their identity documents with an administrative process as opposed to a lengthy and intrusive court proceeding.

MP Bartolo introduced the bill in the Maltese Parliament a few days ago with the backing of Labour party opposition leader Joseph Muscat.

Malta Gay Rights Movement president Gabi Calleja stated a recent press conference that the aim of the Gender Identity Act is to minimize the problems that trans people have in doing name and gender changes.

"Gender re-assessment surgery must not be a prerequisite for the authorities to accept a request to amend legal documents. It all depended on what a person felt and how he/she acted.  Nor should people applying for such a change need to be single or have to go through a marriage annulment if they were married," said Ms. Calleja

'However, parental duties would still apply."

The Gender Identity Act's author is MGRM legal consultant Dr. Neil Falzon, who stated that underlying principle was to replace the court process that transgender people needed to undergo today with a simpler, less intrusive and cheaper administrative procedure.

“An Act like this would remove legal ambiguities making the process of notifying a person’s change in gender less dependent on interpretation by the courts,” Dr Falzon said.   The Bill also seeks to change certain provisions in force that are breaches of human rights according to Dr Falzon.

The Bill's filing comes in the wake of a landmark Maltese Constitutional Court case which granted Joanne Cassar the right to marry after waging a four year battle to do so.

Unfortunately the stress of waging that battle destroyed th e relationship with the man she'd originally planned to marry in December 2007, but she says it was a battle worth fighting.

Bartolo urged MPs to sideline their prejudices and appealed to the government to put the Gender Identity Bill on the Maltese Parliament’s agenda.   Nationalist MP Karl Gouder said he had not yet seen the Bill but supported the cause.  

“We should try to minimize pain wherever it is present and hopefully we will find the best way forward,” Mr.Gouder is quoted as saying in a Times of Malta interview, adding he would try to get the matter discussed within the party structures.

Here's hoping that Maltese trans people get that Christmas present of seeing their government step up to the legislative plate and do the right thing for them.

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