Convert, or else

26% of LGBTIQ respondents in Malta experienced a so-called ‘conversion’ practice, in spite of the fact that this is illegal.

An EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) survey has found that 26% of LGBTIQ respondents in Malta experienced a so-called ‘conversion’ practice to make them change their sexual orientation or gender identity, in spite of the fact that this is illegal.  This is higher than the EU’s 24%.

“I feel like LGBTIQ people of faith are forgotten sometimes,” said one respondent, a female asexual of 25, to the FRA survey about their openness about being an LGBTIQ person.  The respondent believes that there are two distinct ideas that can never converge: people think of it as faith versus sexuality, whereas for several people, the two are united and not split.

The findings depict Malta as a safer place for LGBTIQ persons than other European states: while in the EU one in two people will avoid holding hands with their same-sex partner (53%), in Malta that figure is 36%.  A lower proportion of LGBTIQ persons (22%) will avoid certain locations in Malta for fear of being assaulted than in the rest of the EU (29%).

Some 61% of Maltese respondents believe that the government effectively combats prejudice and intolerance against LGBTIQ people. For the EU-27, this was a very low figure of 26%.  Yet, the negative aspects of this lived experience are never too far off, even in Malta: 14% say they feel discriminated against at work (EU: 19%). Discrimination affects many areas of life, such as going to a café, restaurant, hospital, or shop – 31% in Malta felt discriminated against in at least one area of life in the year before the survey (EU: 37%).

This probably explains why 12% of LGBTIQ respondents in Malta   ̶   the same percentage as in the EU as a whole   ̶   told the FRA survey they thought often or always of committing suicide in the year before the survey.   Clearly, in spite of the tremendous progress made over the last decade, ingrained societal prejudices still have to be fought with vigour.

Photo illustration by The Daily Beast

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