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More than 60% of Maltese are OK with a gay PM

38% not comfortable with a Muslim colleague

A total of 58 per cent of the population would be comfortable or indifferent to a transgender person leading the country, the survey found. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A total of 58 per cent of the population would be comfortable or indifferent to a transgender person leading the country, the survey found. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

More than 60 per cent of Maltese people would be comfortable with a gay prime minister but only 40 per cent would accept a premier who was not Christian, a new Eurobarometer survey shows.

The European Commission report, based on surveys carried out in May and June this year, says that 50 per cent of the population would also be comfortable with a transgender person leading the country.

This represents a 22 per cent increase, the largest in Europe, since the survey was last carried out in 2009, and during which time Malta introduced a new law on gender identity.

Eighty-one per cent – second only to the Netherlands – said transgender people should be allowed to change their legal documents to match their inner gender identity, a key component of that law.

In general, the report notes that across Europe, people are becoming more comfortable with groups at risk of discrimination.

Younger people and those with a higher level of education tend to be among the most tolerant, while social circles are becoming steadily more diverse. The report shows, however, that Malta continues to lag behind the rest of Europe on eliminating racial and religious discrimination.

Only 40 per cent of people said they would be comfortable with a prime minister who was not Christian, a small decrease compared to three years ago.

Moreover, 38 per cent of people said they would not be comfortable with a Muslim colleague, and less than a third would be comfortable with their son or daughter entering a relationship with someone of that faith.

The figures for black people were slightly higher, with three quarters saying they would work with a black person and nearly half comfortable with their children having a relationship. These results are still well below the respective European averages.

Malta appears to be doing better in tackling discrimination on the basis of gender and disability: 89 per cent said they were comfortable with a woman prime minister and three quarters with a person with a disability, both representing significant increases over previous surveys.

On gay rights, 61 per cent would be comfortable with a gay prime minister – compared to 54 per cent across the EU – but only 35 per cent say they would be comfortable with their child being gay.

Meanwhile, 83 per cent of those surveyed said lessons should teach about diversity in religious beliefs and ethnic origins, and nearly three-quarters believed school lessons should include information about LGBT diversity.

Malta was also among the countries where the highest proportion of respondents felt that new measures should be introduced to raise the level of protection for marginalised groups.

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