Each year ILGA advocates for human rights and equality, by measuring and tracking the dynamics and standards of the LGBT+ community in Europe. ILGA Europe is an independent NGO that focuses on international change on a political, legal and social front in both Europe and Central Asia. Their yearly reports showcase the levels of LGBT+ democracy shown through the protection of dignity, freedoms and human rights regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
The 2022 European Rainbow Index results are out and for the 7th consecutive year Malta has made it to the top of the list with a score of 92%.
The 2022 Rainbow Europe Map: Malta’s Ongoing Fight For LGBT+ Rights
That’s right the tiny Maltese islands cluster claims the #1 spot for ILGA’s LGBT+ democratic rights… and with a 7-year run too!
Since 2015, Malta has held its 1st position ranking in the ILGA Europe report with the country’s LGBT+ rights standing proud at a constitutional level – also banning Conversion Therapy on minors in the same year. The first milestone in Malta’s LGBT+ history was noted in the legalization of same-sex sexual activity back in 1973; followed by a number of feats that allowed Malta to achieved the highest standards in comparison to other European countries.
From then on, the local LGBT+ community has fought for the improvement of their basic human rights in a myriad of different social circumstances such as the community’s ability to serve openly in the Maltese Army.
Perhaps the pinnacle legal update, that caused quite a stir in the country, which took place in 2014, was the introduction of Civil Union between same-sex couples being made legal and further improved in 2017 with an update in the offical name: same-sex marriage.
Other pivotal improvements in Maltese law related to the LGBT+ community include the country’s stance of adoption available to single members of the community as well as same-sex couples legally joined in civil union or marriage. IVF treatments are now also available through local healthcare and private medical care too.
The most recent update in local legislation shines a light on gender identity; allowing transgender and non-binary people the right to change their gender with or without surgery. This right extends to their full access to public healthcare, education and equality within the workforce.
Inclusivity is Key: Malta’s Events Schedule Welcomes All
Inclusivity is everywhere in Malta, especially when it comes to the cultural and entertainment programmes that run throughout the year! There are always tonnes of interesting things to do, see and participate in if you’re looking to have a good time in Malta.
Some of the hottest summer events that are about to captivate everyone’s attention include the Malta Jazz Festival, Isle of MTV, the Malta International Food Festival, not to mention Lewis Capaldi in Concert!
Some other great LGBT+ events include Malta’s Gay Pride which will take place from the 2nd till the 11th of September despite June being known as Pride Month globally. So much like the rest of Europe, Malta has a tonne of inclusive events and activities that attract not only the LGBT+ community but the entire population. This sense of togetherness is what unites Malta so gracefully at times – in celebrating common interests and escapes.
So how does the Rest of Europe fair in LGBT+ Rights?
The 2022 Rainbow Map and Index presents a detailed account of the legal policies reflecting the rights of LGBT+ people in Europe. The percentage score is awarded to each of the 50 participating countries based upon 7 qualifying sectors. These are Equality and Non-Discrimination, Family, Hate Crime and Hate Speech, Legal Gender Recognition, Intersex Bodily Integrity, Civil Society Space as well as Asylum – each of these broad sectors are further divided into specific categories where representatives from each participating country notes down their nation’s acceptance of each category.
Malta summed up a rating of 92.02% only failing to meet the standards related to ‘Goods and Services’ and ‘Health’ on the basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation, ‘Constitution’ on the basis of Sex Characteristics and ‘Blood Donation’ on an entire front – these are factors all relating to the umbrella group ‘Family’ and are relevant to the time of the survey. Recent discussions regarding Blood Donation of gay and bisexual men might see an improved score for Malta in future indexing.
In comparison, even high ranking countries such as Denmark (2nd place) and Belgium (3rd place) still trail behind Malta with a score of 73.78% and 71.51% respectively. The areas of improvement needed for these two countries to reach Malta’s level of LGBT+ rights and policies are mostly related to the sector of ‘Hate Crime and Hate Speech’ in Belgium’s case and ‘Legal Gender Recognition’ in Denmark’s case.
Malta is one of the leading countries in Europe to follow the category of ‘Prohibition of Medical Intervention Without Informed Consent’ as related to Intersex people. Germany, Iceland, Portugal and some regions of Spain also follow suit.
The sector of ‘Intersex Bodily Integration’ features another 3 category standards that are not met by any of the European countries involved in this Index. This is perhaps where a great amount of education and reform needs to take place for Malta to reach the 100% mark.
The local climate for hate crime and hate speech is not as severe as it is in neighbouring European countries or the rest of the world, but of course there are a number of improvements that the local LGBT+ community can hope for in Malta. While integrations in society are at an all time high in Europe, even claiming Malta one of the safest gay-friendly places to travel to, the community will continue to be advocates for change for future generations no matter their placement of the LGBTQI+ spectrum.