After a protracted legal battle that went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France and even became an issue in the recent Maltese election, Joanne Cassar's long fight to have her marriage rights recognized is victorious.
The April 2 news that the Maltese government will amend the Marriage Act so that trans people can marry the partners of their choice according to their acquired gender was greeted with jubilation and relief.
But none were happier than Joanne Cassar, who has been battling the Maltese government in court for seven years to be able to marry her male partner. Cassar won and lost cases in the Maltese court system and eventually took her marriage rights legal wrangle to the ECHR.
She gleefully expressed her satisfaction on social media upon hearing the news that her long battle is finally over.
Cassar even became an issue in the March 9 Maltese election. In a public rally March 2 before Maltese voters went to the polls then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced in response to an audience question that his ruling Nationalist Party would if re-elected introduce gender recognition legislation in the next parliament. Gonzi also claimed that the reason why the Maltese parliament never discussed the transgender recognition private member's bill tabled by then Opposition MP Evarist Bartolo was lack of time.
Never mind the fact that the Gonzi government had been fighting Cassar tooth and nail in the courts and she called him on it.
Cassar accused the Gonzi administration of exploiting her case for political advantage. She pointed out the hypocrisy of the same government now promising to enact these trans marriage rights fighting to keep the legal obstacles that stood in the way of her ability to get married.
She noted the Gonzi government had even filed written submissions against her right to marry in her ECHR case in Strasbourg.
Former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Michael Briguglio then called upon the Gonzi government to stop officially opposing Joanne Cassar in her bid to marry her partner.
"Not only did the government fail to progress the legislation that was tabled through a private member's bill; but it actually fought Joanne Cassar tooth and nail all the way to the Constitutional Court to deny her the fundamental right to marry her male partner," Briguglio said. "This in spite of clear European Court of Human Rights case-law dating back to 2002 which Malta is obliged to respect."
You know how voters in any country hate hypocritical politicians who also get caught
The Malta Gay Rights Movement's coordinator Gabi Calleja was also happy to hear that the Maltese government finally joined the 21st century and conformed to European law.
"I think it's about time that Joanne Cassar's ordeal was brought to an end, and that we finally conform to European law at least in so far as marriage is concerned."
The right of transgender persons to marry in Europe was firmly established in the 2002 precedent setting case Christine Goodwin vs the United Kingdom in which the ECHR held that it found no justification for barring transsexuals from enjoying the right to marry under any circumstances.
Details on the legal amendment will reflect the principle that, by officially recognizing a person's reassigned gender identity through documentation (ID card or driver's license), the State also de facto commits itself to acknowledging and protecting all the rights and privileges associated with that particular gender identity including the right to marry a person of the opposite gender.
Once the legal amendments are in place, the ECHR case filed against Malta by Cassar will be withdrawn, and her legal expenses will be refunded by the State.
Congrats Joanne on winning your long marriage fight that you never should have had to go through in the first place and striking a blow for girls like us around the world.