Malta: The Gold Standard for Gay Friendliness

Malta: The Gold Standard for Gay Friendliness

Malta's Journey to Becoming Europe's #1 LGBTQ+ Friendly Destination

Malta has snagged the gold—or rather, rainbow—once again. For the 8th time running, this tiny country in the Mediterranean has clinched the #1 spot on ILGA-Europe's Rainbow Index, which rates 49 European countries on their LGBTQ+ equality laws and policies.

Outranking major destinations like Germany, Spain, and the UK, Malta proves that great things come in small packages. But how did this tiny country take big strides when it comes to gay rights?

Malta’s Rainbow Rights

Malta has demonstrated a long history of establishing strong legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in the country since January 1973. In 2002, Malta enabled gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals to serve openly in the military.

In 2004, Malta banned discrimination nationwide based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The country enhanced rights further in April 2014 by becoming the first European state to add gender identity to its Constitution as a protected category.

Building on this constitutional protection, Malta enacted the Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics Act. This Act is among the most progressive internationally, permitting transgender people to legally change gender without medical interventions. It also bans surgeries on intersex infants.

After first establishing same-sex civil unions in April 2014, Malta made news by legalising same-sex marriage in 2017. This confers full marital rights to same-sex couples, including adoption.

Additionally, in December 2016 Malta became the first European country to criminalise conversion therapy, recognising the severe harm the practice causes.

With such comprehensive legislative support for LGBTI people spanning nearly 50 years, it is not surprising Malta has ranked number one on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index for eight consecutive years.

A Premier Gaycation Destination

Malta’s broad legal protections and the locals’ welcoming attitude paved the way for one-of-a-kind venues to emerge across hotspots like the capital city Valletta and the neighbouring Sliema. Here, a glimmering array of hotels roll out the rainbow carpet for vacationers.