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In a bill approved unanimously, Malta has become the first European country to ban conversion therapy under the “Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill“.
A press release by the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties published Monday states that the bill:
effectively criminalizes conversion practices—any practice which aims to change, repress, or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, by imposing fines and jail terms on those advertising, offering, performing, or referring an individual to another person which performs such practices. In addition, this Bill affirms that no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease, or shortcoming of any sort.
The Maltese Parliament also made amendments to the “Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics Act.” The bill which, passed in 2015, aims “to provide for the recognition and registration of the gender of a person and to regulate the effects of such a change, as well as the recognition and protection of the sex characteristics of a person.”
Amendments to the 2015 bill allow for non-Maltese people detained in gender-segregated facilities to reside in the facility which reflects their gender identity. The bill has also been amended to lower the age in which individuals can independently ask for gender affirmation change on legal documents, changing it from 18 to 16.
The Malta Chamber of Psychologists, along with three other medical organizations in Malta praised the law.
Malta has consistently ranked as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly nations in Europe since 2013. In July 2015, Malta released the LGBTIQ Action Plan which sought to eradicate “discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the public service, including in the police force,” making a commitment to action through 2017.
Mehak Anwar is a reporter whose work focuses on LGBTQ rights, intersectional feminism, and race. Her byline has appeared in Bustle and the Huffington Post.