Laws

MALTA

Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Asylum / Refugees
Civil Unions
Custody of Children
Discrimination
Estates, Wills
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
Hate Crimes
Health, Medical
HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Immigration
Inheritance, Succession
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Military
Parenting
Partners
Property
Sodomy
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wrongful Death

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Age of Consent Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

The law in Malta provides that any penetrative sexual intercourse with a person under 12 years of age is rape [R1.1].

Article 203 of the Criminal Code, the 'defilement' provisions, prohibit any sexual act with a person under 18 years and the other party is liable to prosecution upon the complaint of the minor, the minor's parent/s or legal guardian/s [R1.1].

A parent or guardian's attitude to a same-sex or opposite-sex sexual act may decide whether a complaint is made [R1.1].

R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Ageing, Bioethics, Health, Medical Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 07 December 2016, it was reported that the parliament voted unanimously to ban gay conversion therapy, becoming the first European country to do so. Under the new law, anyone who tries to ''change, repress or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression'' will be fined or even jailed. Professionals will face heftier fines of up to 10,000 euros and could also be jailed for up to a year [R1.5].

On 21 November 2016, Bill No. 167, the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill passed the committee stage. If the Bill passes the third reading in the Parliament, gay conversion therapy will become unlawful and persons who attempt to change, repress or eliminate a person's sexual orientation may be fined between €1,000 and €5,000 or imprisoned for a term of five months, professionals may be fined between €2,000 and €10,000 or imprisonment of up to a year [L1.4], [R1.3].

On 01 April 2015, the Parliament unanimously passed the Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC) to protect trans and intersex people who will no longer need to have surgery, sterilization and a diagnosis of mental illness to legally change gender. A simple declaration based on self-determination before a notary is sufficient. Also, the law bans medically unnecessary surgery on the genitals of intersex infants. The bill now goes to President Maria Louise Coleiro Preca for her signature [L1.2], [R1.1].

R1.5 BBCnews: Malta bans 'gay cure' conversion therapy 07 DEC 16
L1.4 Bill No. 167: Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill HTML 851.41kb 30 SEP 16
R1.3 MaltaToday: Malta set to ban gay conversion therapy as Bill passes final hurdle 21 NOV 16
L1.2 Act: Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act C 847 Word 82.5kb, 26 MAR 15
R1.1 GayStarNews: Malta now has one of the best trans and intersex laws in the world 02 APR 15
Assisted Reproduction Technology
Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation, Surrogacy
Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [CHILDREN] [PARENTING]
1.

National

On 01 January 2013, the new 'Embryo Protection Act' came into force restricting IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) services to “two persons of the opposite sex” who are either “united in marriage” or “in a stable relationship with each other” meaning that same-sex couples will be automatically denied access to medical services on the basis of their sexual orientation [R1.3].

Previously:

There was no legislation regulating reproductive technology in Malta. However, artificial insemination is carried out in a private clinic, and it is believed that no artificial insemination procedures by donor is carried out [R1.2].


On 31 July 2012, the MGRM said that the Embryo Protection Act is blatantly discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation and is inherently homophobic in nature. By excluding same sex couples and single persons from its definition of prospective parents, the Act goes against basic human rights principles such as the right to found a family [R1.2].

2.

Surrogacy

There have been no known cases of surrogacy in Malta [R1.1].

R1.3 PinkNews: Malta: Law restricting IVF to opposite-sex couples slammed as 'unashamedly homophobic' 06 SEP 13
R1.2 MaltaStar: MGRM: IVF bill discriminates against gays 31 JUL 12
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Asylum, Immigration, Refugees Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Asylum / Refugees

The Maltese Refugees Act (Chapter 420 of the Laws of Malta) recognises for persecution due to "membership of a particular social group" as a ground, but does not specify whether belonging to a sexual minority amounts to membership of a social group [R1.1].

The wording of the law seems to include persecution by non-state agents, although this is less clear [R1.1].

So far there have been no cases of individuals seeking refugee status in Malta due to persecution owing to their sexual orientation, so the position is not very clear [R1.1].

See now: 1A. Courts & Tribunals below.

1A.

Courts & Tribunals

On 24 November 2013, the Refugee Appeals Board was reported to have granted an 18-year-old Nigerian man asylum following anti-gay persecution in his country, protecting him from imprisonment and possible death by stoning or flogging. The first time asylum has been granted on such grounds. His initial request wasa turned down by Commissioner for Refugees in April [R1A.1].

2.

Immigration

On 16 August 2011, following infringement proceedings by the European Commission the Maltese government was forced to strike the clause [L2.4] that said the country only recognised partners "in a durable relationship" if such relationships were not in "conflict with the public policy of Malta" [L2.3] however, it now appears that the same-sex partner of an EU citizen can move with that EU citizen to Malta, but the partner of a Maltese resident, who already lives in the country, cannot move to Malta [R2.2].

Previously:

The law in Malta did not recognise same-sex partners in any degree and there were no rights of immigration for same-sex partners [R1.1].

R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
R1A.1 PinkNews: 18-year-old Nigerian man granted asylum in Malta following anti-gay persecution 24 NOV 13
L2.4 Department of Information: LN 329 of 2011: European Union Nationals and their Family Members (Amendment) Order, 2011 PDF 108.78kb, 16 AUG 11
L2.3 Department of Information: LN 191 of 2007: Free Movement of European Union Nationals and their Family Members Order 2007 PDF 357.19kb, 17 JAN 08
R2.2 Pink News: Maltese LGBT community faces legal anomaly after discriminatory rule is revoked 25 AUG 11
Children: Access, Custody, Visitation Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

The courts usually grant custody on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child. However, as there is no 'no-fault' divorce legislation it is difficult to distinguish whether decisions have been based on 'fault' or sexual orientation [R1.1].

Custody has been granted even to the spouse found to be at 'fault' in separation proceedings as in a case involving a married lesbian mother who had an adulterous affair with another woman [C1.2].

The court has imposed conditions in custody orders as in access orders, requiring that there no same-sex or opposite-sex partner of the separated parent be living with or present whilst the child is in the custody of that parent [R1.1].

Maltese Courts have occasionally decided, in the interest of the "moral well-being of the children", that during visitation by one of the parents, there should be no other persons present, particularly any present partner of the parent in question. This has been applied to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners [R1.1].

C1.2 Adelina Sacco v Carmelo Sacco - 1994
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Civil Unions, Partners: Domestic, Registered Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 17 April 2014, the Civil Unions Act was gazetted [R1.11].

On 16 April 2014, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca signed the Civil Unions Act (No. IX of 2014) into law [R1.10].

On 14 April 2014, Parliament approved the civil unions law, the opposition abstaining because the bill included child adoptions by gay couples [R1.9].

On 30 September 2013, Bill No. 20, the Civil Unions Bill, was introduced and read for the first time [R1.8].

On 18 June 2013, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that the government intends to legislate in favour of civil unions by the end of the year [R1.7].

On 12 January 2013, Labour leader Joseph Muscat was reported to have pledged that a future Labour governent would introduce the right of civil union for same sex couples while also enacting a law regulating the identification of transgender persons [R1.6].

On 28 August 2012, the MGRM said the Cohabitation Regulatory Bill (Motion No. 314 "An Act to provide for the Regulation of Cohabitation") acknowledges those who enter into a de jure cohabitation agreement as next of kin and grants residency rights to those who come from Third Countries but continues to exclude these couples from the government's definition of family [R1.5].

On 26 June 2012, Justice minister Chris Said tabled a motion for a Cohabitation Regulatory Bill that will finally bring into law a 1998 electoral pledge to recognise new rights for unmarried couples, both straight and gay, who are part of a durable relationship [R1.4].

On 08 March 2012, a Justice Ministry spokesman indicated that a cohabitation bill was in prospect, giving cohabiting couples legal rights will include provisions for gay civil partnerships [R1.3].

On 18 November 2011, a Nationalist Party general council meeting was expected to discuss a document that states that the party “understands that relationships are precious for people living the experience and understands as well that for them this relationship takes on a meaning of a family nucleus, even if they are not married. The State cannot close its eyes to this and therefore must legislate wherever necessary to establish rights and duties in such relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual.” [R1.2].

The law in Malta does not recognise same-sex couples, nor does it recognise unmarried opposite-sex couples [R1.1].

R1.11 Government Gazette of Malta No. 19,239 17 APR 14
R1.10 PinkNews: Malta: President signs gay civil unions and adoption bill into law 17 APR 14
R1.9 TimesOfMalta: Same sex unions approved - Celebrations in Valletta - Opposition abstains because of adoptions 14 APR 14
R1.8 Parliament of Malta: Bill No. 20 - Civil Unions Bill (Accessed 21 OCT 13)
R1.7 MaltaIndependent: Civil unions for same-sex couples by end of year 18 JUN 13
R1.6 MaltaToday: Labour government to introduce civil unions for same sex couples 12 JAN 13
R1.5 MaltaToday: Malta Gay Rights Movement 'disappointed' with cohabitation bill 28 AUG 12
R1.4 MaltaToday: Motion for cohabitation bill's first reading presented 28 JUN 12
R1.3 Times of Malta: Cohabitation law will cover gay partnerships 08 MAR 12
R1.2 Malta Independent Online: Same-sex unions on PN agenda 19 NOV 11
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 12 August 2014, an amendment to the Employment and Industrial Relations Act came into force making it unlawful to discriminate at the workplace against transgendered people (people who are considering or intend to undergo, or are undergoing, a process, or part of a process, for the purposes of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex). Employees only need to provide enough evidence pointing to a likely case of discrimination. The employer will then need to prove that discrimination has not taken place [R1.7].

On 14 April 2014, Parliament approved a constitutional amendment moved by the opposition for gay people to be protected from discrimination. The amendment was approved by all present [R1.6].

On 07 October 2003, legal notice 297 was published in the Government Gazette specifically banning discrimination (in employment) on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as religion or belief, disability, age, race and ethnic origin [R1.5].

The legal notice states: "In determining whether any treatment is treatment that is justified in a democratic society, the Industrial Tribunal shall take into account the provisions of any directive and, or regulation issued by the institutions of the European Union relating to discrimination and particularly Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29th June 2000 and Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27th November 2000 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation, race or ethnic origin" [R1.5].

Malta's admission to membership of the EU was made conditional upon Malta enacting laws meeting Council Directive 2000/78/EC, requiring EU member states (and accession countries prior to their accession) to enact legislation banning sexual orientation discrimination and harassment in employment and occupation [R1.4].

Previously:

In May 2003, the European Commission noted that labor laws in Malta ban discrimination in principle but they did not specifically mention sexual orientation [R1.3].

In August 2002, concern was voiced that the Bill on Employment and Industrial Relations, being debated in Parliament prior to its being adjourned for the summer recess, did not offer adequate protection from sexual orientation discrimination and harassment at the workplace [R1.2].

In May 2002, proposed changes to be made to the provisions on discrimination contained in the Bill on Employment and Industrial Relations included an explicit reference to sexual orientation [R1.1].

R1.7 MaltaToday: Illegal to discriminate against trans-people at work 18 AUG 14
R1.6 TimesOfMalta: Same sex unions approved - Celebrations in Valletta - Opposition abstains because of adoptions 14 APR 14
R1.5 The Malta Independent: Government Outlaws Discrimination Against Gays 12 OCT 03
R1.5 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
R1.3 Melbourne Star: Malta Discrimination 15 MAY 03
R1.2 Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM): Gays Criticise Bill on Employment Relations 08 AUG 02
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM): Bill on Employment and Industrial Relations 01 MAY 02

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Estates, Inheritance, Property, Succession, Wills Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

The law in Malta does not recognise same-sex couples and accordingly same-sex partners do not have any rights to property division as between themselves [R1.1].


The intestacy law in Malta does not recognise any interest of a same-sex partner [R1.1].

There is no right to make a claim on a deceased partner's estate if no specific provision has been made in the Will of the deceased [R1.1].

If there are any surviving descendants/ascendants of the deceased there has to be a portion of the estate that is reserved to them [R1.1].

R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [DISCRIMINATION]
1.

National

On 01 April 2015, the Parliament unanimously passed the Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC) to protect trans and intersex people who will no longer need to have surgery, sterilization and a diagnosis of mental illness to legally change gender. A simple declaration based on self-determination before a notary is sufficient. Also, the law bans medically unnecessary surgery on the genitals of intersex infants. The bill now goes to President Maria Louise Coleiro Preca for her signature [L1.5], [R1.4].

On 29 October 2014, the Government released the draft Gender Identity Act that would if it is passed by the Parliament and signed into law, allow transgender people to change their birth certificates which would mean that all other documents, including ID Cards, passports, driving licences and academic certificates would change accordingly [R1.3].

On 03 April 2013, the Malta Government reportedly had pledged to promptly enact the required changes to the Civil Code to ensure recognition of transgender persons as persons of the acquired sex for all intents and purposes, including marriage [R1.2].

On 10 December 2010, Labour MP Evarist Bartolo tabled the Gender Identity Bill which if passed would change the present judicial process to a purely administrative one and remove the requirement for gender reassignment surgery in order to change their legal sex [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 23 May 2011, the Constitutional Court decided that post-operative transgender Ms Cassar can never be considered a woman according to the Marriages Act and that the change in the birth certificate was done to protect her privacy and prevent embarrassment [R2.6] and see: [R2.4], [R2.3], [R2.2].


In March 2011, Mr Justice Joseph Azzopardi granted a transgender man the right to have his birth certificate changed to 'male' [R2.5].


In December 2010, the Attorney General filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court challenging the finding that the ban on transgender marriage violated Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to marry [R2.4].

Previously:

On 30 November 2010, Mr Justice Raymond C. Pace in the Constitutional Court ruled that a ban on transgender marriage, of the kind imposed by the lower courts in previous rulings, violated Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to marry, to which Malta is signatory. The Registrar of Marriages had 20 days in which to appeal the ruling [R2.3].

In October 2008, a trans woman in Malta refused the right to get married to her male partner because she used to be male challenged the decision in court,[R2.2].


The Courts have established that transgender persons have a right, following gender reassignment surgery, to have their sex and name modified on their birth certificate [R2.1].

However, this decision has not lead to a change in the law and transgender persons may have to pursue lengthy and costly court proceedings against the Public Registrar [R2.1].

In some cases the Attorney General has also appealed the decision of a court of first instance that had found in favour of the applicant [R2.1].

There has also been a case where a transgender person was granted a right to have her details amended on the birth certificate but was denied the right to marry [R2.1].

L1.5 Act: Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act C 847 Word 82.5kb, 26 MAR 15
R1.4 GayStarNews: Malta now has one of the best trans and intersex laws in the world 02 APR 15
R1.3 MaltaToday: Civil liberties minister launches Gender Identity Act 29 OCT 14
R1.2 PinkNews: Transgender woman wins legal right to marry after government drops case 03 APR 13
R1.1 Di–ve: Malta Gay Rights pushing for the Gender Identity Bill MT 11 JAN 11
R2.6 The Malta Independent Online: Transsexual’s marriage case to be taken to ECHR 24 MAY 11
R2.5 PinkNews: Maltese trans man wins right to be recognised as male 29 MAR 11
R2.4 The Times of Malta: Attorney General appeals in transsexual marriage case 21 DEC 10
R2.3 maltatoday: Sex change woman wins her legal battle to get married 30 NOV 10
R2.2 PinkNews.co.uk: Trans Woman Claims Violation of Human Rights Over Marriage Refusal23 OCT 08
R2.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Hate Crimes Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 20 June 2012, the Parliament passed new legislation which extends hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in the country's history [R1.2].

Previously:

The law in Malta did not impose more severe penalties for crimes motivated by hate [R1.1].


Hate speech legislation, is limited to crimes motivated by race, colour, ethnic or national origin and nationality [R1.1].

R1.2 GayStarNews: Malta extends hate crime laws to include gays 21 JUN 12
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
HIV Aids Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

GLBT individuals are categorized as a high-risk group, and are not allowed to donate blood, or, in the case of life insurances, have to pay more than double the amount of money in premium in order to be covered. Life insurances are compulsory whenever one needs a mortgage [R1.1].

R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

The law in Malta permits consensual sex between same-sex couples [R1.1].

In September 1973, the offence of "unnatural carnal connection", which only ever applied to acts of sodomy [C1.2], was repealed [R1.1].

C1.2 Police v Douglas James, Jack Sheddon
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 12 July 2017, the parliament approved the Marriage Equality Bill in a 66-1 vote, extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. The marriage bill is expected to take effect later this month [R1.6].

Previously:

The Marriage Act spoke of "his wife or her husband" which has been interpreted as excluding same-sex marriage and no law had been passed expressly excluding same-sex marriage [R1.5].

On 05 July 2017, the parliament passed the 2nd reading of the Marriage Equality Bill, 2017 introducing gay marriage. A final vote on the third reading is expected on Wednesday 12 July. The Bill, as proposed by government seeks to replace gender specific terminology with gender neutral terms such as 'spouse', 'partner' and 'person who gave birth' instead of 'mother', 'father', 'husband' and 'wife' [R1.4].

On 05 June 2017, it was reported that recently elected Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he is determined to pass the drafted equal marriage legislation before parliament is dissolved for the summer break in July [R1.3].

On 08 March 2015, Gabi Calleja of the Malta Gay Rights Movement was reported as stating that marriages entered into abroad are recognised as marriages [R1.2].

On 03 April 2013, the Malta Government reportedly had pledged to promptly enact the required changes to the Civil Code to ensure recognition of transgender persons as persons of the acquired sex for all intents and purposes, including marriage [R1.1].

R1.6 WashingtonBlade: Malta same-sex marriage bill receives final approval 12 JUL 17
R1.5 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
R1.4 MaltaInsependent: Second reading of gay marriage law approved by Parliament, final vote on Wednesday 05 JUL 17
R1.3 GayStarNews: Malta's new Prime Minister determined to pass same-sex marriage by the end of July 05 JUN 17
R1.2 KaleidoScot: Huge steps forward in Malta 08 MAR 15
R1.1 PinkNews: Transgender woman wins legal right to marry after government drops case 03 APR 13
Military Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

There are no known cases of dismissals on the grounds of sexual orientation or other discriminatory practices in the military [R1.1].

R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
Parenting, Adoption, fostering Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

Adoption

On 17 April 2014, the Civil Unions Act was gazetted. The bill included child adoptions by gay couples [R1.5].

On 14 April 2014, Parliament approved the civil unions law, the opposition abstaining because the bill included child adoptions by gay couples [R1.4].

Previously:

The law in Malta did not proscribe against individual gaymen and lesbians adopting children, however there are few instances of such adoptions being permitted [R1.3].

There were no known cases where an adoption was been denied on the ground of sexual orientation [R1.3].

Adoption by couples was limited to opposite sex married couples [R1.3].

Fostering

On 17 April 2014, the Civil Unions Act came into force, accordingly there would appear to be no impediment to same-sex couples fostering children [R1.2].

Previously:

In Malta there is as yet no specific law on fostering, and this is mostly regulated by practice in social services [R1.1].

Same-sex couples were not recognized at law, and it was doubtful whether a child would be fostered to a GLBTI individual or couple. No such cases are known [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 12 July 2016, the Family Court was reported to have approved the adoption of a child be a homosexual couple after they were recently united in a civil union and assessed as suitable by the Court [R2.1].

R1.5 Government Gazette of Malta No. 19,239 17 APR 14
R1.4 Same sex unions approved - Celebrations in Valletta - Opposition abstains because of adoptions 14 APR 14
R1.3 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
R1.2 TimesOfMalta: Same sex unions approved - Celebrations in Valletta - Opposition abstains because of adoptions 14 APR 14
R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03
R2.1 MaltaToday: Family Court approves first adoption by same-sex couple 13 JUL 16
Violence: Bullying, Domestic Violence, Harassment, Vilification Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [HATE CRIMES]
1.

National

1A. Violence, Domestic Violence

Violence or threats of violence are an assault and should be reported to the police.

As to domestic violence, the law in Malta does not specifically protect gay men and lesbians because same-sex partners cohabiting are not recognised [R1.1].

1B. Harassment

The law in Malta does not prohibit harassment of GLBTI persons [R1.1].

Malta's admission to the EU would require it to comply with EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC, making workplace harassment unlawful [R1.1].

There are however provisions concerning sexual harassment that are worded in gender neutral terms, and therefore would also offer protection to GLBT persons [R1.1].

1C. Vilification

There are general anti-vilification laws in Malta but none specifically protecting GLBTI persons [R1.1].

R1.1 Malta Gay Rights Movement: 20 MAR 03

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