Exposed: The Murky Maltese Connections of the Author of European Resolution on Gender Self-ID

30 January 2020

MT — . One of the accusations levelled at gender-critical feminists, even those with decades-long track records of leftwing activism and gay rights campaigning, is that we are somehow in league with the Religious Right.

Trans-rights activists like to portray themselves as the vanguard of liberal progress, and use this to justify their

rejection of any public debate or scrutiny of their insistence that the legal and everyday definition of ‘woman’ is

changed, which feminists argue makes it harder for women to protect their boundaries and rights.

What the trans-rights activists are less willing to do is cast a critical eye over their own bedfellows, be they Big Pharma,

Men’s Rights aggressors, or Deborah Schembri, a member of Malta’s corrupt political elite whose questionable

connections British film maker and gay rights activist Malcolm Clark has been investigating.

Deborah Schembri is important in the recent history of the advance of gender self-identification through the volumes of

human rights protocols, because she is the author of the resolution on Discrimination Against Transgender People in

Europe, which was passed by the Council of Europe in 2015 and is widely cited to shore up demands for changes to

laws and practices.

Clark has investigated how this resolution came to be ‘waived through’ by the Council of Europe while considering ‘next

to nothing’ about the pros and cons of the issue and its potential impact on women.

He has also investigated the public life of Deborah Schembri in Malta, where, according to Transparency International’s

latest report, “corruption is undermining the rule of law.”

Its latest report published last week TI stated of Malta:

“A significant lack of political integrity contributes to politicians and others hiding illicit wealth behind secret

companies.” And, “two years after the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed while

reporting on corruption, the country is still mired in corruption.”

Clark has found that Deborah Schembri, a member of parliament since 2013, was being investigated by Daphne

Caruana Galizia, the journalist who was blown up in a car bomb in October 2017, it’s alleged, by gangsters with links to

Maltese politicians.

Just a day after Galizia was blown up, Schembri warned, “freedom of expression must not be abused… Those who may

feel they do not have legal remedy may take the law into their own hands.”

The journalist had criticised a slew of development deals Schembri was approving on behalf of the government. And

she had highlighted how, as a minister, Schembri had used the services of the state’s official planning consultant as her

architect for a flash home that required a historic house to be bulldozed.

When her namesake Keith Schembri was recently accused of involvement in the killing of Galizia, she denounced his

critics. When Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was mentioned in the Panama Papers, Schembri fiercely defended him,

and after sex scandals involving colleagues (including the colleagues visiting brothels while on state visits) her response was to suggest new tougher privacy laws to protect them. Most recently, Schembri has received a string of

controversial sinecures from Prime Minister Muscat.

“Does all this matter?” asks Clark. “Well, shouldn’t we expect the person who creates a new benchmark for trans rights

to have ethical awareness? Doesn’t the judgement matter of someone introducing guidelines that are now being used

to undermine women’s rights?”

And so to the drafting of the Council of Europe’s resolution on transgender rights. While these resolutions are not

binding laws, they sound important and can be used to bolster attempts to influence legislation in and beyond the 47

member states of the Council of Europe (not to be confused with the European Union).

A former researcher with Amnesty International describes how a key strategy used by human rights campaigners is to

propose policies to be included in draft resolutions to be put to inter-governmental organisations such as the Council of


And so it was with the resolution on Discrimination Against Transgender People in Europe, which includes – alongside

many valuable clauses to end discrimination – the recommendation that nation states implement legal gender

recognition “based on self-determination” and abolish any requirement for a medical or mental health diagnosis (see

section A6.2 in the draft resolution).

In effect, this means all the rights and protections a nation’s laws may give to women as a sex should be opened up to

any man who self-identifies as a woman. The fears of feminists is that this key legal change is open to abuse and so its

potential harmful implications for women should be fully explored before any legal changes are made.

But the author of the Council of Europe resolution, Deborah Schembri, did not hear from women’s groups on the

possible effects of changes to the legal definitions of ‘woman’. The only organisations she heard from were those

advocating unequivocally for gender self-ID (see section B3 of the draft resolution). And on a fact-finding visit to the

UK ahead of drafting the resolution, the only organisations she met with were those advocating unequivocally for gender self-ID.

Clark points out that in the introduction to the resolution, Schembri “manages to name-check only one country as a

trans paragon of anti-discrimination, you guessed it Malta, of which she says ‘in the case of Malta, such prohibition has

even been included in the Constitution.’

“So here we have Malta being presented as a trans utopia (despite it having no abortion rights and Malta only

introducing trans rights in 2013 anyway).”

Clark concludes that Schembri’s championing of the agenda for legal self-identification of trans people conveniently

acts “to whitewash their country’s reputation”.

“So let’s get this right: a tiny nation desperate to push a progressive smokescreen gets its representative in the

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to compile minimal information to back its agenda. She produces a

report that gets waived through by a Parliament that in 2015 knew next to nothing about the pros and cons. This report

is then used to drive the agenda of the few lobby groups she consulted who actually stand to benefit.”