Malta has come out on top form again with the Rainbow Europe rating, with a score of just over 90. For such a small nation to be leading the way with LGBT+ rights, we ought to be proud of that – especially when second place is given to Belgium with a score of 73.
But does that reflect Malta’s attitude towards the LGBT+ community accurately?
The Eurobarometer report on discrimination might suggest otherwise, with Malta having suffered a dip in percentage of those who agree that the LGBT+ community should have the same rights as heterosexual people, down by 3% from 2015’s 76%.
What makes this strange is that Malta was recorded as having the highest increase in a decade back in 2015 when they recorded a 65% agreement with same-sex marriage and only 29% in opposition.
What does this mean for Malta? As only 67% of respondents believe that same-sex marriages should be allowed throughout all of Europe.
The graph above shows a ranking of all EU countries in relation to their attitude towards public displays of affection between two men, where only 38% of respondents admitted to feeling ‘totally comfortable’ with seeing anything from a kiss to holding hands.
When it comes to the response to two women engaging in a public display of affection, Malta sits at scored the same for feeling ‘totally comfortable’ but there’s a 2% difference for those feeling ‘totally uncomfortable’ – and in a country where a female spouse can still find it difficult to garner the same respect as her husband, does this result lean towards the suggestion of misogyny still being present in Malta?
The data gets even more interesting when compared with previous records.
For heterosexual PDAs, the score is up for ‘totally comfortable’ by 7% and down by 10% for those who answered ‘totally uncomfortable’ – for two men, comfortable was up by 4% and uncomfortable was down by 10%, cementing the idea that if something is present in a society for long enough, it can become the “new normal”. The same goes for two women, where those who are fine with lesbian PDAs increased by 1% and those uncomfortable with them are down by 8%.
View this post on Instagram
7️⃣6️⃣% of Europeans agree gay, lesbian or bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexual people. This represents a 5️⃣ percentage points increase since 2015. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity has no place in our society, but for many people in Europe, it is a daily reality. We are working to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. ? Data based on Eurobarometer survey, Discrimination in the EU, 2019. #ThisIsTheEU #EU4LGBTI
Another useful analysis can be made with regards to how the Maltese feel about gender identity.
83% of Maltese respondents agreed that civil documents should allow for the expression of one’s true gender identity, but only 67% agreed that a third option should be allowed on things like ID cards, passports and birth certificates so where does this leave those who identify within the non-binary end of the spectrum?
What this report seems to show is that while Malta’s acceptance of gays and lesbians has increased within the publics eye, it seems to have taken a dip in the agreement that LGBT+ persons should be entitled to the same rights as everyone else.
It’s also worth noting the validity of the data from Malta’s perspective.
As Malta sees a high amount of immigration, this could position the data as unreliable for a real reflection of the Maltese attitude towards the LGBT+ community if those who answered from within Malta are originally from another country. It is a well-known fact that Malta hosts a high number of Eastern European nationals who might not be as aware of society’s current climate.