Yesterday, lawmakers of the Mediterranean island country of Malta unanimously adopted the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESA). The groundbreaking bill is intended to protect the fundamental rights of intersex, transgender and gender queer citizens or habitual residents of Malta.
According to the GIGESCA public consultation, the new policy recognizes the right to physical autonomy, bodily integrity and gender identity for all people, while granting protections against discrimination across public services. It also regulates the process to legally change gender on documents such as passports, for both minors and adults.
The bill also makes it illegal to perform any unnecessary medical treatment on the sex characteristics of a person without their consent and allows the parents of a ‘minor whose gender has not been declared at birth’ to delay the gender marker on their child’s birth certificate.
Maltese Minister for Civil Liberties, Dr. Helena Dalli, said the bill echoes the rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr Dalli went on to declare that the Government introduced GIGESA “for knowledge to reign over ignorance, for justice to reign over injustice and to build a society on the respect of human rights.”
Malta made history by providing some of the most holistic protections for gender queer, intersex and transgender people around the globe. Thus far, only New Zealand, India, Nepal, Germany, Bangladesh, Australia and Argentina have implemented similar gender identity protections into law.