Transexual Woman Takes Marriage Fight to European Court of Human Rights

Transexual woman Joanne Cassar has been fighting for the right to marry in Malta for the past five years, and while several courts have ruled that a ban on her being able to marry a male partner is a violation of her human rights, Cassar must now take her fight before the European Court of Human Rights to find an effective legal remedy that the lower courts have been unable to provide.

From Times of

Ms Cassar’s legal saga started in 2006 when the Marriage Registrar refused to issue marriage banns although her birth certificate had been changed to indicate she was now a woman.

The appeals court ruled there was a lacuna in the law that did not allow people to enter into any form of life partnership after undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

In the appeal to the European Court yesterday, Ms Cassar asked for a declaration that the Director of Public Registry could not refuse to issue the marriage banns [sic] just because she underwent gender reassignment surgery.

Ms. Cassar underwent gender reassignment surgery in the UK when she was 22 after being diagnosed with gender identity disorder.

In a landmark 2007 ruling a judge ordered government officials to issue the appropriate documentation to permit Ms. Cassar to get married. However, the Director of Public Registry contested the ruling and in May 2008 won.

Ms. Cassar then filed a constitutional application in the First Hall of the Civil Court where she argued that not allowing her to marry a male partner amounted to a violation of her fundamental rights. The court agreed with her.

However, that decision was overturned in May of this year when an appeals court said that while Ms. Cassar’s gender change can be recorded on relevant identity documentation, she cannot be considered a woman under the country’s Marriage Act and therefore the registrar was right in denying the license. The court did note the hardship that this hole in the law presents but declined to offer a remedy.

In petitioning to the European Court of Human Rights, Ms. Cassar’s lawyers, José Herrera and David Camilleri, are quoted as saying that Cassar will also ask for compensation “due to the fact that over all these years pending these proceedings, although it has been established (by the courts) that her fundamental human rights have been breached, she has not been granted an effective remedy,”

Ms Cassar is no longer with the partner she had intended to marry, however she continues her fight as a civil rights matter.


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Rock Cohen.


Norma V.
Norma Villarreal7 years ago

Power to Joanne.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G7 years ago

You go girl!!!

Rhea P.
Rhea P7 years ago

First of all... I congratulate Ms. Cassar for her courage to fight for her rights... after all... she is a woman and she should have every right to marry a man one day if she choses.

Secondly... James, unfortunately, it's people like you that get in the way of human rights and make it difficult for people to move forward. Wake -up!!!

Thanks for the post... peace & light.

carpathia w.
carpathia w7 years ago

First of all to Jayna W. Malta is part of European Union - as in, NOT part of the US.

Secondly, and Tthankfully, the church does not and never will judge at the European court of Human Rights. Therefore, it is totally impartial and the vote is fairer. Thankfully too, in the UK the church was told a long time ago to butt out of politics and the court system.

Thirdly, Oh James dear! How monochromatic must be the world you live in! Wake up! The world is full of gray! Not black and not white! And occasionally nature gets it a tad wrong and wonderful surgeons in countries that are sympathetic and forward thinking, take heed and do their best to put right a tragic wrong! Get over it!

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Alexandra O.
Alex O7 years ago

When people are too ignorant to understand or to mean spirited to accept, they lash out, calling people sick or brain damaged. When someone wants to have gender reassignment surgery, this is a very personal thing and isn't for us to judge. No one has the right to judge another person and assume they know what's best for a person, especially someone they don't know and have never met. Unfortunately, there's way too many James C's in the world.

Robert Tedders
Robert T7 years ago

@Bernadette Genovese: AGREED!! #ANGRY

P.S.: Did you know you have the unfortunate coincidence of sharing your name with a U.S. Mafia family?

Emily Drew
Emily Drew7 years ago

James C.,
Do you wanna know who is sick in the world? YOU! you are the sick one not HER. She has EVERY right to get get married.

Drusilla P.
Drusilla P7 years ago

Some people really need to mind their own business. Miss Cassar's birth certificate now states that she's a woman, therefore she must be allowed to get married if she wants. It's so sad that her companion left (the civil servants who prevented the wedding should have to pay in some way).

Erm... Jayna W., since Malta is a lil' bit in the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights is the last hope for her....
And it looks as if James C. needs to do "its" homework... or something.

Thanks for the info.

antonia m.
antonia maestre7 years ago

"If AIDS was somehow supposed to be the barometer of morality, lesbians would be the most moral people in the World! Because from the standpoint of risk, lesbian is the way to go!"-Dr. John Corvino