minatolu

One Young World Profile profiles

Mina Tolu

Studies:
University of Malta

I am passionate about

My passion is a combination of my skills and interest. I seek to tell messages about issues which matter, and issues I care about.

In the past this has been related to LGBTI rights in Malta, where for a long time the demands of LGBTI activists and organisations were being ignored by the government. Finally, in 2014 a Civil Unions Bill passed, and in 2015 the Gender Identity, Gender Expressions, and Sex Characteristics (GIGESC) Act passed unanimously in parliament. GIGESC is particularly important as it is the most groundbreaking law on Legal Gender Recognition in the world. With GIGESC, Malta also became the first country to outlaw normalising surgeries on Intersex children. To be a part of this process, and contribute to community consultations about the law through my organisation 'We Are' was truly amazing.

Over the past 6 years I have been involved in LGBTI organisations in Malta and Europe. I founded 'We Are' an LGBTQI youth and student organisation at the University of Malta in 2010, and was on the executive committee for four terms, three as communications officer, and one as president of the organisation. In 2014 I joined the executive board of IGLYO, the International LGBTQI Youth and Student Organisation, and served as communications officer, and later co-chair. Since September 2015 I work for Transgender Europe, a European human rights network working for the human rights and equality of all trans people in Europe.

There are still 24 countries in Europe which require sterilisation from trans people in order to have legal documents matching their gender identity, and over 2000 trans people have been reported murdered worldwide since 2008. Clearly there is a long way to go for full trans equality, but I hope to continue my work in Communications and Campaigning on trans rights for as long as there is need.

Actions

In 2015, as Campaign Coordinator for BirdLife Malta, I was in charge of the management of a national-wide campaign to encourage people to turn up and vote against spring hunting in a referendum. While the referendum was lost by less than a percentage point, the campaign was successful in engaging a nation in the debate, it was clear that people understood the core messages, and were motivated to turn up to vote. Turnout stood at 75% with a 50.4% win in favour of retaining spring hunting.
While previously there was a moderately active environmental movement in Malta, it is only after the referendum that others started to speak up and protest against some governmental proposals which really harmed Malta's national environment. A few months after the referendum the most successful and well attended protest on an environmental issue happened in Malta.
I believe that the referendum helped spark awareness, but also hope, that when people join together behind a common cause change can happen. Although the referendum wasn't won, it was a slim enough margin, that slight possibility that inspired more people to take action. I was just one of the many working behind the scenes for the 3 months up to the referendum, but I believe that my work, along with that of the others, has helped to create this positive change, which we are only starting to witness now.