IDAHOBIT: Malta first in LGBTIQ rights, again

As the world celebrates the International Day against LGBTIQ-phobia (IDAHOBIT), Malta has been crowned the champion on LGBTIQ rights once again, claiming the top spot in the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index, for the 6th consecutive year, can confirm. Malta got a score of 94%, 5 percentage points better than last year.

The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is “Together Resisting, Supporting, Healing”, as the world looks to recover from the effects of COVID-19 with LGBTIQ communities being particularly hit. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression & Sex Characteristics Unit (SOGIGESC) Unit, set up three years ago to push forward government policy and mainstreaming initiatives in the field of LGBTIQ equality, persevered with its work programme as it adapted to the new circumstances.

Malta’s success this year is partly attributed to the initiatives adopted by the International Protection Agency aimed at safeguarding the rights of LGBTIQ asylum seekers. Moreover, the adoption of National Strategies and Action Plans in 2015 and 2018, have also contributed to the success. These Strategies were developed in close collaboration with the LGBTIQ Consultative Council and endorsed by Cabinet, setting clear targets that needed to be met by a range of departments and entities.

Malta got a score of 94%, 5 percentage points better than last year.

Over the past year the SOGIGESC Unit has been working hand-in-hand with other stakeholders to implement a number of initiatives. Among these were a campaign in partnership with Jobsplus to promote the inclusion of trans persons in the workplace, as well as outreach and information campaigns with LGBTIQ asylum seekers, in collaboration with UNHCR and AWAS. Training sessions were also held with GPs, family doctors and emergency personnel in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry for Health as well as MUMN, MCFD, Steward Health Care and Ghent University Hospital. A focus also on Gozo with a recent bus campaign in collaboration with LGBTI+ Gozo, aimed at raising visibility and awareness.

Government has committed to providing financial support for Malta to host EuroPride Valletta 2023, an event which has the potential to attract thousands of participants and where Malta can showcase its achievements and good practices in the field. The promotion of LGBTIQ rights beyond our shores is also one of government’s priorities and different Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs missions based in Geneva, New York, Brussels and elsewhere have played a key role in expressing Malta’s commitment towards advancing the rights of LGBTIQ persons around the world.

The relationship established between the LGBTIQ Consultative Council and the SOGIGESC Unit ensures that any issues and gaps in existing provisions are brought to our attention and efforts taken to address them wherever possible.

The steps towards LGBTIQ equality are many and involve a range of actors across government, civil society and the private sector. Continuous effort is required by all in order to ensure that current and future generations can enjoy a society that is free from prejudice and discrimination towards LGBTIQ persons where diversity can be embraced and celebrated as part of our national identity. The creation of a Union of Equality, as advocated for by EU Commissioner Helena Dalli, must not remain a dream vision but a lived reality, for human rights are inalienable, indivisible and interdependent and belong to us all.

Further information on the work of the SOGIGESC Unit can be found here.