The Marriage Act

The Malta Humanist Association welcomes last Wednesday's approval of The Marriage Equality Act in Parliament, making Malta the 15th EU state to introduce marriage equality.

The MHA has long been working to bring equality to all, and to safeguard minority rights, for they are both tenets that the organisation is built on. This last development is only the latest in a series of positive steps forward in this sphere, that the country has taken in recent years.

The recent debates in various media, which ended with the celebrations at Castille Square last Wednesday, were bittersweet for the MHA and its members, and indeed all who knew the late Ramon Casha, previous chairman of the organisation, who worked tirelessly for LGBTIQ rights through the years on both a personal and professional level. Those who are active within the LGBTIQ community would have felt his absence both in debate and in celebration.

Since September 2015, the MHA has had its own list of accredited celebrants who officiate weddings, funerals, and baby naming ceremonies, and the number of Maltese seeking this service has more than doubled over the last year.

The MHA is working on a number of new and old projects and will continue to be active in its contribution to issues pertaining to people's rights, particularly rights to do with equality and non-discrimination.

Winter 2016 Charity Collection

Thank You!

This year the Malta Humanist Association decided to organise a collection to donate to a charity. A poll in our Facebook group allowed members to vote for which charity they wished to support. At the closing date, there were two clear winners.

Dar Merħba Bik is a home which hosts a number of immigrant families as well as helping women victims of domestic violence. It is run by a community of nuns as well as volunteers, and there are several members who attest to the good work they do.

The Hospice Movement provides palliative care to people with terminal illnesses. Some of our members had family members and friends there and others help by volunteering, and speak positively about their dedication and work.

The amount collected was:


(The cents are due to the percentage that PayPal takes from each transaction)

In the coming days this amount will be divided between the two chosen charities. Again, thanks to everyone for making this initiative a success.

Ramon Casha



Emergency contraceptives should be over the counter

Press Release

The Malta Humanist Association is joining the call for the emergency contraceptive pill to be made available over the counter, without a prescription, to women who need it. Continue reading

Assisted Suicide

“So you're going to sort of die?”
“Oh yes.” The cat purred as the fingers tickled it behind the ear.
The smith looked embarrassed. “When?”
The wizard thought for a moment. “In about six minutes' time.”
“Don't worry,” said the wizard. “I’m quite looking forward to it, to tell you the truth. I’ve heard it's quite painless.”
The blacksmith considered this. “Who told you?” he said at last.
The wizard pretended not to hear him. He was watching the bridge, looking for tell-tale turbulence in the mist.
-- Terry Pratchett, “Equal Rites”

Doctor holding patient's hand

Joe Magro is 56 years old. He should be getting ready for his retirement. He certainly wants to live life to the full. Yet, it is with the same calm demeanour of the above passage that he informs his interviewer that he is dying. Joe has ALS (remember the “ice bucket challenge”?), a terminal degenerative disease that will slowly, but inevitably, rob him of his ability to move. First to go will be his ability to walk, move his arms or hands and to speak, but eventually he will lose his ability to breathe. Continue reading

Medieval heresy and the inquisition

author : A.S. Turberville


a very interesting and scholarly book about the era prior to the rise of humanism, also giving the gradual development of anti clericalism and the rise of free thinking.

available free from gutenberg library

MHA endorses WRF efforts on emergency contraception pill

The Malta Humanist Association would like to declare its support to the Women's Rights Foundation on their initiative to request the availability of the emergency contraceptive pill in Malta.

Emergency contraceptive pills are not illegal, but so far the Medicines Authority has refused to allow anyone to import them, without giving a valid reason.

The MHA also notes that there have been several misinformed claims on the issue, even by people in high authority, and would therefore encourage the public to seek valid scientific information individually rather than accept hearsay and sentiment-laden statements.

Emergency contraceptives prevent an egg from being released from the ovaries, and thus prevent fertilisation. They are not abortive measures and cannot interfere with an embryo once fertilisation has taken place*

There can never be gender equality when women are prevented from taking control of their own reproduction.

There is no justification for denying women the right to emergency contraceptives and the Malta Humanist Association applauds the Women's Rights Foundation for taking this initiative.

* References:
Mechanisms of action of oral emergency contraception, Gynecological Endocrinology, 30:10, 685-687
Mechanism of action of Ulipristal Acetate for Emergency Contraception: A Systematic Review, Frontiers in Pharmacology 2015; 6: 315
Emergency Contraception: A Last Chance to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy, Princeton University March 2016

MHA concern about compromises on vilification law removal

The following letter was sent to all members of parliament.

The Malta Humanist Association is concerned about the apparent direction being taken in the efforts to repeal Malta’s vilification of religion law, including compromises that are being contemplated.

Freedom of Expression is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and while it is not without limitations, these limitations should be very few and included only when absolutely necessary. Examples include the requirement to say the truth on the witness stand, and the prohibition of filing false police reports. These are based on the principle of harm, as described by John Stuart Mill in his 1859 philosophical work “On Liberty”. People should be protected from harm, not ideas or beliefs.

The world was rightly shocked at the treatment of people like Raif Badawi, sentenced to ten years of jail, a thousand lashes and a large fine by Saudi Arabia for “insulting Islam”. Another case has just happened in Kuwait, where Professor of Philosophy Sheikha al-Jassem has been charged with the same crime after a  complainant said he had been psychologically damaged by her remarks that the constitution is above the Qu'ran.

The main difference between Malta’s situation and that of Saudi Arabia is the severity of the sentence and the frequency with which the law is applied, but the principle in both cases remains the same - that there is a set of beliefs that is shielded from criticism, or anything that can be arbitrarily declared to be “offensive”. In the past, in Malta, this law has been used to try to stifle literary expression and prosecute people dressing in costumes in carnival. Even when the accused were liberated, the threat of this law hanging over people’s heads serves to stifle freedom of expression.

In the ECHR case of Handyside vs the UK in 1972, the court delivered the famous declaration that “Freedom of expression… is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”.

Some are recommending a compromise by opening up freedom of expression only to arts and artists. This creates several new problems, since it requires an authority on what is art, or who is an artist. Courts will have to decide whether an individual is an artist, or whether an expressed opinion qualifies as art, thus creating a new privileged class whose rights are greater than the rest of the population.

It has been mentioned that proposed changes would extend this anti-discrimination protection to atheism. Speaking on behalf of the Malta Humanist Association, we have never requested nor do we desire any similar protection for Humanism. Any belief system should be open to criticism as much as a political stance or ideology: If it stands up to criticism it does not need protection. If it cannot stand up to criticism, then it does not deserve it.

The Malta Humanist Association encourages our representatives to repeal articles 163 and 164 in their entirety. Their presence in our law provides no benefit and actually harms society.

Ramon Casha
Chairman, Malta Humanist Association

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A Scout Meeting

Malta Scout Association

The Boy Scouts of America made the headlines over the past years due to their discrimination against atheists and LGBT people. Happily, the situation in Malta (and most of Europe) is very different.

The MHA had a chat with the Chief Commissioner (I wish we could say it was round a campfire, but it was round a table), where we were reassured that Scouting is for Everyone. The Scouts in Malta have been co-educational for decades, and are LGBT-friendly as well as accepting of people with different religious beliefs, or none. There are different versions of the Scout promise, which traditionally mentions God, to cater for different beliefs.

A number of Scout groups are linked to a specific school (closed sponsored groups), and these normally only accept students of that school and are influenced by the school's ethos. For the open groups found in most cities, a lot depends on their leaders and on the region - some places tend to be a bit more conservative than others - but if anyone is interested to send their kids to Scouts, they can contact the Chief Commissioner of the Scouts who will be happy to suggest groups that are a bit more progressive.

Scouting is open to boys or girls between the ages of 5 and 26.

Visit the Scout website to learn more about Scouting

Philosophy now

this is a journal discussing various topics available online wherein some of the writeups are free.