Thursday, 31 July 2008

FŻL Malta: La mara … tiżżewweġ raġel
Stqarrija maħruġa mill-Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti
31 ta’ Lulju 2008

Il-Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti jixtieq jesprimi l-appoġġ tiegħu lil Joanne Ċassar, il-persuna li minkejja li llum hija rikonoxxuta bħala mara, s’issa ma tħallietx tiżżewweġ raġel.

Wara li fil-jiem li għaddew Ċassar ħadet il-każ tagħha fil-Qorti Kostituzzjonali, il-Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti jħoss li għandu jesprimi l-appoġġ tiegħu lejn din il-kawża ġusta.

Nemmnu li persuna rikonoxxuta bħala mara, dan wara li għamlet ‘gender reassignment’ u b’hekk assumiet is-sess femminili b’mod irriversibbli, għandha kull jedd li tiżżewweġ ċivilment raġel.

Qegħdin nieħdu din il-pożizzjoni mhux għax nemmnu li neċċesarjament irridu nagħmlu bħal pajjiżi ohrajn, iżda għax ahna konvinti li f’dan l-istadju huwa sempliċiment dritt ta’ din il-mara li tiżżewweġ raġel. Xejn iktar u xejn inqas.
F’dan l-istadju rridu nagħmluha ċara li din hija biss il-pożizzjoni uffiċjai tal-Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti.

Nittamaw li l-każ inkwistjoni jkun riżolt b’mod sodisfaċenti f’pajjiżna u ma jkunx hemm għalfejn jitla’ quddiem il-Qorti Ewropea tal-Ġustizzja biex Joanne tkun tista’ tiżżewweġ persuna tas-sess oppost tagħha f’pajjiżna.

Nota: L-A.D. diġa' kienet ħarġet stqarrija fuq dan il-każ ftit ġimgħat ilu (Ara hawn).

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Times: Woman born a man insists on right to marry
Wednesday, 30th July 2008; Claudia Calleja

A woman who was born a man but was legally declared female following gender reassignment surgery has taken her court battle for the right to marry a step further when she filed a constitutional application, yesterday.

"I'm still young and will keep fighting for the family life I always wanted... It is my right and if I don't get it from the Maltese courts, I'm ready to take my case to the European Court," Joanne Cassar, 26, said when contacted.

She filed the application in the First Hall of the Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction after a court revoked a previous ruling that had given her the green light to marry.

In the constitutional application, Ms Cassar explained that she was born a male in September 1981. Ever since she was a child she felt she was female. As she grew up older, she decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery to solve the internal conflict she had. After surgery, she filed an application calling on the courts to change the gender annotation on her birth certificate to female. In June 2006 the court upheld her request.

Ms Cassar said that subsequently she applied to the Marriage Registry to issue the wedding banns as she wanted to marry her partner. But the director of the Public Registry refused to issue the banns sparking off her legal battle for the right to marry.

Ms Cassar filed an application in the Civil Court demanding that the director of the Public Registry issues the banns and, on February 12, 2007, the court upheld her application and ordered the issue of the banns.

The director the Public Registry filed another application, also in the Civil Court, calling on the court to reverse the previous decision.

In a judgment handed down in May this year, the court ruled that, despite the fact that Ms Cassar was registered as a woman, it believed she was essentially still a man and the Marriage Act did not allow a union between two men. The court ruled that her gender had been changed on the birth certificate to safeguard her privacy and did not give her the rights of a "female" in light of the Marriage Act.

The court also ruled that the marriage of Ms Cassar to a man was in breach of the Marriage Act and so the court revoked the February 12, 2007 ruling saying it was based on an "unrealistic premise" as the parties were not of the opposite sex.

In her constitutional application, Ms Cassar argued that the law as interpreted by the Maltese courts went against a judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights. Quoting case law, she submitted that "there have been major social changes in the institution of marriage since the adoption of the (European) Convention as well as dramatic changes bought about by developments in medicine and science in the field of transsexuality..."

The condition of gender identity disorder, which Ms Cassar suffered from, has been accepted by medical authorities and one could not ignore the post-operative gender for the purposes of law.

Maltese law did not recognise her as belonging to the post-operative gender for all legal intents and purposes. This put her in the situation where she could neither marry a man nor a woman. This exposed her to degrading treatment and was in breach of her fundamental human right to marry.

She called on the court to provide her with legal remedies and declared that the director of the Public Registry could not refuse to issue the banns on grounds that she could not marry a man because she was born male.

Lawyers Josè Herrera and David Camilleri represented Ms Cassar.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Irish Times: Plan to tackle bullying of gays
29.7.8; Alison Healy

A RECOMMENDATION that the Department of Education take a lead role in tackling the bullying of gay and lesbian students has been welcomed by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen).

The National Economic and Social Forum’s fifth periodic report published yesterday noted “with concern” continuing homophobic bullying in many schools.

Eoin Collins of Glen said action must be taken to make schools safe learning environments for all.

“This is a significant area of concern, given that a Department of Education and Science-funded study in 2006 showed that 79 per cent of teachers were aware of homophobic bullying in their schools, but the overwhelming majority of schools have no policies in place to tackle this issue,” he said.

The report highlighted progress made on lesbian and gay matters in recent years, but expressed concern about issues such as the lack of specific services for older people and the slow progress on funding gay and lesbian groups on community development issues.

Mr Collins said the Government’s commitment to enacting civil partnership legislation for same-sex couples would help to resolve many difficulties.

The report highlighted research that pointed to the business benefits in supporting equality. It said the Department of Enterprise should draw up a strategy to attract and encourage creative talent and build on the country’s reputation for openness and diversity.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Pink News: Report shows "significant progress" for gays in Ireland
By Staff Writer, • July 28, 2008

A forum that advises the Irish government on equality and social inclusion has said that there has been progress on gay rights in the past five years.

The National Economic and Social Forum's Fifth Periodic Report includes commentary of progress since the publication of NESF Report 27 "Equality Policies for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People: Implementations Issues" in 2003.

The forum highlighted areas for further action including legal recognition of same-sex couples parenting children and the need for measures to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

"There has clearly been significant progress for lesbian and gay people since the NESF first published its report on equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in 2003," said Eoin Collins, director of policy change at Ireland's leading gay rights group, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network.

"The Government has committed to enacting comprehensive civil partnership legislation for same-sex couples which will resolve many immediate and pressing issues faced by lesbian and gay couples.

"The NESF importantly highlights the need for further action to make schools safer learning environments for lesbian and gay students or those perceived to be so.

"This is a significant area of concern given that that a Department of Education and Science funded study in 2006 showed that 79% of teachers were aware of homophobic bullying in their schools but the overwhelming majority of schools have no policies in place to tackle this issue."

An organisation that lobbies for full civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ireland has attacked the government’s civil partnership proposals.

MarriagEquality said that proposed legislation published last month will leave the children of lesbian and gay parents "in limbo," with no constitutional or legal recognition, or protection.

The group also claims that by creating a separate legal status for same-sex couples, the government is reinforcing inequality.

"Civil partnership is being dubbed as ‘marriage-like’, but marriage entitlements afforded to heterosexual couples will be denied to lesbian and gay couples under the proposed scheme," MarriagEquality said.

"The human right to marry must be extended to lesbian and gay couples now.

"Civil partnership should have been introduced to Ireland for all straight, lesbian and gay cohabiting couples many years ago.

"Introducing civil partnership as the only option for lesbians and gay men is discriminatory."
The group rejects the government’s assertion that the Irish constitution limits marriage to a man and a woman.

"MarriagEquality shares the opinion of some of Ireland's finest constitutional lawyers who see no constitutional impediment to providing marriage equality.

"There is no substance to the argument that full equality for same sex couples is unconstitutional.

"The Government are saying that Irish people are not ready for lesbians and gay men to marry in a civil ceremony but we have research that supports a very different view.

"There has been a huge public shift in recent times on the issue.

"Almost 60% of Irish people think that lesbians and gay men should have the option to marry.

"Furthermore, an overwhelming 86% of people agreed that children of gay and lesbian parents should have the same family rights as other children."

Independent: Interview: Thinking pink
28.7.8; by Francesca Vella

Patrick Attard is the only declared gay candidate to have contested a general election in Malta. He is also the only political spokesman for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) issues. Dr Ing. Attard spoke to Francesca Vella about the need for Malta to address issues such as same-sex civil partnerships, urgent family leave and bereavement leave for everyone. Malta stands to gain from becoming more gay-friendly, and often enough it is just about being more sensitive, he explained.

Dr Ing. Attard contested the general election on the Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) ticket, the only political party in Malta that has openly declared itself to be in favour of same-sex civil partnerships.

Although Labour leader Joseph Muscat has been speaking openly about the importance of establishing some form of civil partnerships for gay couples, he has, so far, stopped short of going into further detail.

The AD spokesman said Dr Muscat has to elaborate on the matter and explain what exactly he means by “some form of civil partnerships”.

“Allowing same-sex civil partnerships is not about being cool, or copying other countries. It is about human issues; it is about urgent family leave, inheritance rights, survivors’ pension, bereavement leave and the right for a non-EU citizen to live and work in Malta… it incorporates all these legal issues that do not apply, as yet, to gay couples.”

Dr Ing. Attard recalled a situation of a gay man who had been with his partner for 26 years and could not see him at the hospital after a serious traffic accident and the victim succumbed to his injuries after a few days without his partner being at his deathbed because he was not a family member. And if a gay person’s partner dies, s/he is not entitled to bereavement leave or to be included in the organisation of the funeral. This is about fundamental human rights, he said.

“Such situations are traumatic in themselves. Imagine not being able to see your partner at his deathbed – this has caused people long-term, devastating psychological effects,” said Dr Ing. Attard.

Although politicians often act according to the direction in which public opinion is swinging, AD has always spoken about issues like gay rights and divorce, even when they were much less popular in Malta.

Dr Ing. Attard said that before the 8 March general election, AD candidates all signed the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) petition.

This calls on political parties to address, among others, the inclusion in the Criminal Code of an article regarding homophobic and transphobic violence, as well as the inclusion of gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for transgender persons as part of the public health services.

The AD spokesman pointed out that often enough, it is just about being more sensitive and it would not cost much to introduce more gay-friendly measures.

He mentioned a situation where a transsexual woman had to stay in a men’s ward when she was admitted to hospital.

“This is downright humiliating. It really would not have taken much for the hospital to allow her to stay in a women’s ward.”

Speaking about urgent family leave and bereavement leave for gay people, Dr Ing. Attard said that this too, would not be a costly measure.

Failing to allow gay people to take this type of leave from work could take them longer to recover from the trauma they would have been through, and they would be less productive at work.

He said that when Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was the minister responsible for social policy, he refused the introduction of urgent family leave for gay couples.

Dr Gonzi had also been against the introduction of an industrial law against discrimination on the grounds of sexual discrimination, said Dr Ing. Attard, and this was only included after the European Commission’s intervention.

He insisted that Malta had a lot to gain by being more gay-friendly, particularly since gay couples’ spending patterns are different and they tend to spend more on travelling.

“There is what is referred to as the DINK (dual income, no kids) household – couples living in a DINK household are thought to have more disposable income because they do not have the added expenses that come with children.

“The country could look into the possibilities of becoming a gay tourist destination, particularly during the shoulder months. The value of the “pink euro” or the “pink pound” is underestimated in this country. Gay tourism is booming in small cities like Graz in Austria. The cultural scene in places that are more gay-friendly has flourished.”

Dr Ing. Attard said he believes there needs to be a separation of Church and State. The country prides itself in supposedly being a modern, secular State.

And yet the Constitution of Malta states: “The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion… The authorities of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are wrong… Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory education”.

The AD spokesman said that statistics have shown that generally speaking, the incidence of suicide among the LGBTs is eight times higher in Christian societies than it is in other societies.

“Unfortunately, in the run-up to this year’s general election, there was a priest in Msida who told people, during his Sunday Mass homily, not to vote AD because it had spoken out in favour of same-sex civil partnerships.”

This is outrageous, especially if he understood the real plea of the LGBT community – that people are suffering because of inequality in this country, he said.

Dr Ing. Attard said he met with the Archbishop, Mgr Paul Cremona, OP, last year and told him that he wished that people with different beliefs would be able to live in the same country in harmony.

He said he told Archbishop Cremona that he knew many families that have not had a meal with their gay son for years. He said he knew a lesbian who has not had a meal with her family for more than 15 years.

“I suggested that in his recorded Easter message, Mgr Cremona should encourage housewives to invite their separated neighbour for afternoon tea and their gay son for Sunday lunch.

“He refused, but I’d like to make this appeal again, so that we will truly build bridges,” said the AD spokesman, clearly referring to the archbishop’s intention to be close to the people by “building bridges” with a sense of good will.

And this is not just about the LGBT community. He said that when it comes to certain issues, the local Church cannot be considered to be our moral compass. For instance, there have been situations where separated people were asked to go and receive Holy Communion in another parish far away from their locality just because they are cohabiting with someone else.

Also, separated people are not allowed to work as teachers or facilitators in Church schools – this only worsens their trauma as they try to rebuild their lives.

The AD spokesman said that these confusing teachings could result in sad situations – a man on his deathbed refusing to talk to his gay son, a woman admitting she would have had an abortion had she known that her son would turn out to be gay, or the father of a gay boy saying he would have preferred his son having cancer than turning out to be gay.

Dr Ing. Attard referred to the Pope’s World Day of Peace message, given on 1 January this year. He said the Pope’s attack on the LGBT community was evident.

That day, Pope Benedict XVI said: “…everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace”.

The AD spokesman said the Church should review its teachings regarding sexuality and celibacy for priests; many of its teachings are based on judicative biblical text such as the book of Leviticus, which condemns homosexuality, but it condones slavery, and says that people working on the Sabbath should be killed.

In fact, Leviticus 18:22 reads: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”.

And Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”.

Most Maltese Catholics probably do not follow some of Leviticus’ teachings, yet they are unable to accept that there is nothing wrong in being gay, said Dr Ing. Attard.

Going back to politics, he said it was a shame that Nationalist MEPs David Casa and Simon Busuttil had abstained from voting for a European Parliament resolution regarding an EU anti-discrimination directive granting protection in the provision of goods and services. In previous resolutions, they even abstained from condemning torture and gay killings.

Particularly, he said, when Mr Casa had been to a number of clubs and bars in Brussels in support of the fight against anti-gay discrimination.

So LGBT rights unfortunately remain somewhat low on the political agenda. But Dr Ing. Attard believes that public opinion is slowly shifting, particularly since there has been a relatively strong gay presence in many Maltese and foreign soap operas on television over the past five to 10 years.

But have people really started to think pink? Dr Ing. Attard said he thinks many have; as with other things, it requires a culture change, he argues, but more people are starting to be more open-minded.

After all thinking pink does no harm. Allowing same-sex civil partnerships, for instance, will not do any harm whatsoever to people who disagree with the concept and they can still live their lives in peace; it is just about making more people’s lives slightly easier and happier.

Patrick Attard blogs at

See related article here.

Independent: AD spokesman for LGBT issues renews appeal to archbishop
28.7.8; by Francesca Vella

Patrick Attard, Alternattiva Demokratika's (AD) spokesman for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual/transgender (LGBT) issues, has renewed his appeal to Archbishop Paul Cremona, asked him to encourage housewives to invite their separated neighbour for afternoon tea and their gay son for Sunday lunch.

In an interview with The Malta Independent, Dr Ing. Attard said that when he had met the archbishop last year, he had told him that he wished that people with different beliefs would be able to live in the same country in harmony.

Dr Ing. Attard had suggested to the archbishop that in his recorded Easter message, he should encourage housewives to invite their separated neighbour for afternoon tea and their gay son for Sunday lunch. However, the archbishop had refused.

The AD spokesman, who contested the 8 March general election on the AD ticket as a gay candidate, is renewing his appeal to Mgr Cremona, saying that it was a way of "building bridges".

These were in fact the words that Mgr Cremona used when he was chosen archbishop last year. He had said he wants to be close to the people by "building bridges" with a sense of good will.

The AD spokesman said the Church should review its teachings regarding sexuality, and especially celibacy for priests.

Many of the Church's teachings are based on judicative biblical text such as the book of Leviticus, which condemns homosexuality, but condones slavery, and says that people working on the Sabbath should be killed, said Dr Ing. Attard.

See Interview on page 8, 9 (Click here)

Friday, 25 July 2008

CNN: Gays in Iraq terrorized by threats, rape, murder
25.7.8; By Frederik Pleitgen, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Wayne Drash

Editor's note: CNN agreed to change the names of the two men in this article to protect their identities.

Kamal says he was raped repeatedly over 15 days in 2005 by kidnappers who demanded $1,500 ransom.

Kamal says he was raped repeatedly over 15 days in 2005 by kidnappers who demanded $1,500 ransom.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Kamal was just 16 when gunmen snatched him off the streets of Baghdad, stuffed him in the trunk of a car and whisked him away to a house. But the real terror was about to begin.

The men realized he was gay, Kamal said, when he took his shirt off and they saw that his chest was shaved.

"They told me to take off my clothes to rape me or they would kill me immediately. This moment was the worst moment in my life," he said, weeping as he spoke of the 2005 ordeal.

"I was watching them taking off their clothes, preparing to rape me. I did not know what to do, so I started shouting loudly, 'Please do not do that! I will ask my family to give you whatever you want.' " Video Watch the tormented life of gays in Iraq »

His pleas went unheeded. "The other two kidnappers took off my clothes by force, and, at that time, I saw them as three dirty animals trying to tear my body apart."

He was held for 15 days, released only after his family paid a $1,500 ransom. He was raped every day. Only once, he said, was he allowed to talk to his family during captivity. "I told my family that I was beaten by them, but I did not dare to tell my family that I was raped by them. I could not say it, it's too much shame."

CNN spoke with Kamal, now 18, and his 21-year-old friend Rami about what it's like to be gay in Iraq. Coming out as gay is not easy in any country, but to do so in Iraq could mean a death sentence or torture.

The two men rarely show feelings toward each other in public. They spend a lot of time in Internet cafes in Baghdad, surfing gay chat rooms and seeking contacts with other gay men in Iraq and elsewhere.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the situation for gays and lesbians in Iraq has deteriorated. Ridiculed under Hussein, many now find themselves the targets of violence, according to humanitarian officials.

Lesbians are also victims of harassment and violence, but not nearly as often as gay men.

It's unknown how many homosexuals have been killed by militias in the lawless streets of Iraq's cities, but some Web sites post pictures of Iraqis they say were killed for being gay.

One photo on the Iraqi Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender site shows a group of men standing around three male bodies sprawled on a street, blood pouring from their heads. "Gay Iraqi victims of the police and death squads," the site says.

A U.N. report on human rights in Iraq reinforces the accusations of violence. Although gays are supposed to be protected by law in Iraq, it says, they face extreme brutality.

"Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile toward homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them," the report said, adding that homosexuals have been murdered.

"Militias are reportedly threatening families of men believed to be homosexual, stating that they will begin killing family members unless the men are handed over or killed by the family," it said.

The report was issued at the end of 2006 and is the last U.N. study to touch on the subject.

Human rights experts say homosexuals are targeted for cultural reasons as well.

"Gay men and lesbians in Iraq face a lot of risks right now, because homosexuality is sometimes interpreted by people in Iraq as being a Western import," said Scott Portman with the Heartland Alliance, a group that promotes human rights worldwide. "So they can sometimes be targeted by insurgent groups or militias, in part, because of animosity toward the West and, in part, because homosexuality is not well-accepted in Iraqi society."

He added, "the biggest threats right now are from militia organizations, who will attack and actually sometimes kill gay men and women."

Kamal and Rami say the dangers are all too real in Baghdad -- and they live in secrecy not to shame their families.

"I would rather commit suicide than allow my family to find out I am gay," Rami said.

Kamal said he often pretends to have girlfriends in social settings and tells his friends he's dating girls. "I am also careful with the way I dress -- not to show them that I am gay, especially my family."

What would his family do if they found out?

"They will force me to give it up, and I cannot do that," he said. "The 'normal' people cannot live in Iraq. Imagine how the life is for gays."

Rami added, "I do not know why people hate gays even though so many have this tendency. But still they hate it."

Homosexuality is a touchy subject for many Iraqis. When CNN asked Iraqis in Baghdad how they felt about homosexuals, we found intolerance to be widespread.

One man said he considers gays no different from "criminals and terrorists." Another claimed that homosexuality was "illegal under Islamic law, and [gays] should be punished by law like criminals."

Rami said he once fell in love with a man who was part of the Mehdi Army, a Shiite insurgent group loyal to the radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Their relationship eventually soured.

"One day he told me he would come over to my house and kill me in front of my family," Rami said. "I told him I would come outside and be killed in the street because I do not want my family to find out I am gay."

Both men hope to escape Iraq. They say their ideal destination would be San Francisco, California. For now, both of them keep their feelings secret.

Kamal is still tormented by what happened to him nearly three years ago.

"During my sleep, I only see nightmares, and I start crying. My family thought it was because they were beating me."

He paused. "Only my close friend Rami knows about this secret."

The Roman Forum: Hate crime in the heart of Rome

A young twenty year old was attacked Tuesday night in what has been defined a "hate crime". The young woman, whose name has been withheld, is a lesbian and works in the locale "Coming Out", the popular homosexual hangout by the Colosseum.

Her recount of the events state that around 3am, after leaving work and heading home on a night bus, she was grabbed and kicked from behind by an unidentified man who repeatedly yelled homophobic slurs. Once the woman yelled back "I'm a woman", the man stopped hitting her and ran off. The victim states she has no recollection of what her aggressor looked like and would not be able to identify him. A few months ago, gay radio DJ Cristian Floris was similarly attacked from behind and insulted.

The pub Coming Out is located at the foot of the Amphitheatre, its large crowds clearly visible any given night of the week, and is the main meeting place on Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, which former mayor Walter Veltroni nominated "Rome's Gay Street". The street has been under fire as of late for its intention, though not yet executed, of becoming exclusively pedestrian. Arcigay president Fabrizio Marazzo stated that, "a choice was made to explicitly hit one of the city's gay symbols. The controversies regarding the street's fate may have possible stirred up emotions of violence and territory-marking in hope of spreading fear."

Mayor Gianni Alemanno immediately responded to the attack by condemning the violent act: "Our solidarity to the victim of this hate crime. Events like this should never happen again, as they are dishonoring to Rome, which has always been a symbol of welcoming and peaceful cohabiting." Regional President Pieri Marazzo echoed the mayor's statement and added that, "Rome and Lazio must act upon educating everyone so this kind of attack does not repeat itself."

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

You Tube: Does God Hate Gays??

You Tube: Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned

Telegraph: Gay-only retirement village to be built for £12.7 million in Australia
By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney; 21/07/2008

Australia is to get its first gay-only retirement village.

Linton Estate in Ballan, an hour's drive from Melbourne, is billed as a haven for ageing homosexual men, lesbians and the transgendered.

Moorabool Shire council approved plans for the project last week, despite four objections from local residents.

Construction of the The estate will feature 120 two and three-bedroom apartments, a tennis court, bowling green, open-air theatre and a multi-million dollar leisure centre with a pool, spa, gymnasium, cafe, restaurant, piano room and business centre.

Managing director and major shareholder Peter Dickson said the village filled a gap in the market.

"Whether we're in a relationship or whether we're single, we want to be surrounded by friends," he said.

"I wanted Linton Estate to be different to other retirement facilities and this has now come about.

"It's a wonderful achievement for all."

Dianne McAuliffe, mayor of Moorabool Shire, said the council's decision was based on the merits of the development, not the sexual orientation of its occupants.

"We don't go into the nuts and bolts of who's going to be living (there) with any of the applications we look at," she said.

The estate is located near Daylesford, which has one of the largest homosexual populations in rural Australia.

£12.7 (AU$26 million), development will begin early next year.

Monday, 21 July 2008

It-Torċa: Qtugħ iż-żarda ... biex int ma tkunx iddiskriminat (Dan l-artiklu mhux fuq l-website s'issa)
20 ta' Lulju 2008

Wara żmien twil ta’ stennija, il-Kummissjoni Ewropea fil-jiem li għaddew adottat proposta għal direttiva li tipprovdi protezzjoni kontra d-diskriminazzjoni għal ragunijiet ta’ età, diżabilità, orjentazzjoni sesswali u religjon jew twemmin, lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol. Din id-direttiva l-gdida għandha tiżgura trattament ugwali fl-oqsma tal-protezzjoni soċjali, inklużi s-sigurtà soċjali u l-kura tas-sahha, l-edukazzjoni u l-aċċess għal u l-forniment ta’ prodotti u ta’ servizzi disponibbli kummerċjalment lill-pubbliku, inklużi l-akkomodazzjoni fi djar.

Din il-proposta ntlaqgħet tajjeb minn diversi gruppi li jahdmu favur id-drittijiet umani billi fil-preżent, il-ligijiet ta’ l-UE jipprotegu biss kontra tali diskriminazzjoni jekk din issehh fuq il-post tax-xogħol. Fil-prattika dan ifisser li int tkun legalment protett jekk, per eżempju, ma tingħatax impjieg jew titkeċċa minnu minhabba l-orjentament sesswali tiegħek, kif ukoll jekk tkun iffastidjat minn xi kollegi fuq il-post tax-xogħol għax tkun gay jew lesbjana.

L-espressjoni ta’ sodisfazzjon kienet mistennija billi matul it-tlett xhur li għaddew, il-Kummissjoni tat indikazzjonijiet li x’aktarx kienet se tillimitata d-direttiva l-gdida biex din toffri biss protezzjoni kontra d-diskriminazzjoni għal ragunijiet ta’ diżabilità, bir-rakkomandazzjonijiet ma jkollhom l-ebda rabta. Iżda wara pressjoni li saret, speċjalment mis-Soċjalisti, il-Liberali, il-Hodor u gruppi ohrajn tax-xellug fi hdan il-Parlament Ewropew, il-Kummissjoni ddeċidiet li tmur lura għall-pjan originali li din id-direttiva tkun tinkludi wkoll l-oqsma l-ohra.

Dan billi l-ambizzjoni inizjali tal-Kummissjoni kienet li din is-sena tingħata preċedenza lill-proposta kontra d-diskriminazzjoni f’diversi oqsma minhabba li għad baqa’ hafna lakuni fil-legizlazzjoni eżistenti ta’ l-UE li suppost tilqa’ kontra d-diskriminazzjoni. Barra minn hekk, jirriżulta li din l-legiżlazzjoni Ewropea ma lahqitx l-għanijiet kollha tagħha, apparti l-fatt li xi Stati Membri naqsu milli jimplimentaw għal kollox id-direttivi ta’ l-UE u ma nfurzawx biżżejjed biex l-istess legiżlazzjoni tkun imharsa fl-intier tagħha.

Diskiminazzjoni rampanti

Prova ta’ dan huwa r-riżultat ta’ stharrig li sar dan l-ahhar madwar l-UE. Minnu rriżulta li d-diskriminazzjoni għadha rampanti partikolarment f’każi ta’ orjentazzjoni sesswali (51%), diżabilità (45%), età u religjon (42% fiż-żewg każi). Barra minn hekk, wiehed minn tliet Ewropej jirrapportaw li raw b’għajnejhom diskriminazzjoni jew fastidju s-sena l-ohra, u 48% jahsbu li mhux qed isir sforz bizzejjed biex tigi miggielda din it-tbatija.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu l-Kummissarju għall-Impjiegi, Affarijiet Soċjali u l-Opportunitajiet Indaqs, Vladimir Spidla, sahaq li "d-dritt għal trattament ugwali hu fundamentali, iżda miljuni ta’ persuni fl-UE għadhom jiffaċċjaw diskriminazzjoni fil-hajja ta’ kuljum. Attwalment, teżisti inugwaljanza fil-legizlazzjoni Komunitarja stess minhabba li persuni huma protetti kontra d-diskriminazzjoni lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol għal ragunijiet biss ta’ sess u razza jew origini etnika. Għandna nizguraw trattament ugwali għar-ragunijiet kollha."

Nistgħu ngħidu li din id-dikjarazzjoni ċara tal-Kummissarju Spidla kienet eku ta’ dak li sahqu fuqu organizzazzjonijiet mis-soċjetà ċivili kif ukoll trejdunjins li jahdmu qatigħ għall-ugwaljanza, id-drittijiet umani u l-gustizzja soċjali. Dawn kienu jinkludi l-Fergħa Regjonali Ewropea ta’ l-Assoċjazzjoni Internazzjonali ta’ Persuni Gay u Lesbjani (ILGA-Europe), in-Netwerk Ewropew Kontra r-Razzizmu (ENAR), il-Konfederazzjoni Trejdunjonistika Ewropea (ETUĊ), il-Lobby tan-Nisa Ewropej (EWL), il-Forum taż-Żgħażagħ Ewropej (EYF), in-Netwerk Ewropew Kontra l-Faqar (EAPN), in-netwerk ta’ NGOs li jahdmu favur il-gustizzja soċjali u ekonomika (SOLIDAR), kif ukoll il-Pjattaforma tal-Persuni Anzjani Ewropej (AGE).

Jidher li s-sejha komuni ta’ dawn kollha la kienet fiergħa u wisq inqas pwerili għax jeżistu provi mill-aktar ċari li d-diskriminazzjoni lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol għadha wahda mifruxa sew. Bhala eżempju nistgħu nsemmu d-diskriminazzjoni li għadhom isofru persuni b’diżabilità, speċjament f’termini ta’ aċċessibilità għal u l-forniment ta’ prodotti u ta’ servizzi.

Teżisti wkoll diskriminazzjoni fil-konfront ta’ persuni anzjani f’dak li għandu x’jaqsam ma’ l-aċċess tagħhom mhux biss għal kura tas-sahha u dik soċjali, imma wkoll id-diffikultajiet li jhabbtu wiċċhom magħhom per eżempju fejn tidhol l-assikurazzjoni ta’ l-ivvjaggar u vetturi.

Daqstant iehor, fejn jidhlu persuni LGBT, mhux kulhadd fl-UE huwa protett kontra l-bullying omofobiku fl-iskejjel, kontra r-rifjut ta’ servizzi u trattament mediku, kontra r-rifjut li koppji ta’ l-istess sess jingħataw kamra wahda doppja f’lukandi, kif ukoll ir-rifjut għal skemi tas-sigurtà soċjali u housing soċjali adegwat minhabba l-orjentament sesswali tagħhom.

Hekk ukoll wiehed ma jridx jinsa’ d-diskriminazzjoni li hafna kienu u għadhom ibatu minhabba r-religjon jew it-twemmin li jhaddnu, sempliċiment għax jinsabu f’minoranza waqt li gruppi etniċi ohrajn igawdu protezzjoni shiha għal u l-forniment ta’ prodotti, faċilitajiet u servizzi lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol.

Dawn huma biss ftit eżempji li juru l-htiega ta’ miżuri komprensivi ta’ non-diskriminazzjoni mehudin fil-qafas wisgħa internazzjonali tad-drittijiet umani, biex ikun assigurat li ma jkunx hemm fragmentazzjoni tal-protezzjoni kontra d-diskriminazzjoni li tista’ twassal għal inkonsistenzi legali u prattiċi, kif ukoll għal nuqqas ta’ trasparenza u koerenza politika.

Htiega ta’ koerenza

Politika li twassal għall-ugwaljanza u non-diskriminazzjoni hija importanti iżda mhix biżżejjed. Biex din tkun effettiva jinhtieg li politika bhal din tkun mwahhda sew ma’ politika soċjali adattata. Hemm ukoll il-htiega ta’ koerenza politika biex ikun assigurat li dak li jingħad li għandu jsir f’xi ligi ta’ l-UE ma tigix kontradetta f’qasam iehor tal-ligi ta’ l-UE.

Is-shab soċjali għandhom sehem importanti x’jagħtu biex tassew ma tkomplix id-diskriminazzjoni rampanti li teżisti. Ta’ min jiftakar li l-fatt li ma jkunx hemm diskriminazzjoni lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol hafna drabi huwa pre-kundizzjoni għal ugwaljanza fuq il-post tax-xogħol. Wara kollox, kultura ta’ non-diskriminazzjoni u integrazzjoni fuq il-post tax-xogħol tagħti lok għal kultura ta’ non-diskriminazzjoni u integrazzjoni lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol u viċi versa.

Għalhekk, il-legiżlazzjoni l-gdida għandha l-ewwel u qabel kollox tindirizza l-inkonsistenzi li jezistu fil-qasam legali, u d-Direttivi eżistenti jkunu estiżi kontra d-diskriminazzjoni lilhinn mill-post tax-xogħol għar-ragunijiet kollha li s’issa m’humiex trattati, jigifieri dawk minhabba religjon jew twemmin, età, diżabilità u orjentazzjoni sesswali.

Il-legiżlazzjoni hija importanti u pre-kundizzjoni indispensabbli, iżda tinhtieg l-impenn ta’ l-awtoritajiet pubbliċi li jimplimentawha sew. Għalhekk hemm bżonn ta’ sanżjonijiet adegwati li jkollhom impatt reali u ta’ deterrent, u tali legiżlazzjoni għandha tkun akkumpanjata minn miżuri li jassiguraw li min ihoss li gie ddiskriminat ikollu aċċess faċli biex iressaq l-ilmenti tiegħu u jingħata gustizzja.

Barra minn hekk għandhom isiru l-inqas eċċezzjonijiet possibli. Eċċezzjonijiet għar-regola generali ta’ trattament ugwali għandhom jithallew isiru meta tassew ikun hemm htiega genwina li dan isir, u bhala azzjoni pożittiva li tkun mehtiega li tittiehed biex tinkiseb l-ugwaljanza u biex ikunu indirizzati l-iżvantaggi speċifiċi li xi gruppi jkollhom jiffaċċjaw.

Min-naha tiegħu, il-Kummissarju Spidla jgħid li "l-miżuri li qegħdin nipproponu huma proporzjonati u ragunevoli. Dawn jagħtu ċertezza legali lill-kummerċ u lill-utenti ta’ prodotti u ta’ servizzi filwaqt li jirrispettaw kemm ir-rekwiżiti speċifiċi ta’ diversi setturi kif ukoll ta’ tradizzjonijiet nazzjonali".

Jekk wiehed kellu joqgħod fuq dak li qed jingħad, il-ligi se tipprojbixxi kemm diskriminazzjoni diretta u indiretta kif ukoll il-fastidju u l-vittimizzazzjoni. Għal persuni b’diżabiltajiet, in-nuqqas ta’ diskriminazzjoni se tinvolvi kemm l-aċċessibiltà generali kif ukollil-prinċipju ta’ "akkomodazzjoni ragunevoli" li diga tezisti fil-legizlazzjoni eżistenti Ewropea. Madankollu, din se tevita li jigi impost piż sproporzjonat fuq dawk li jipprovdu servizzi billi jkunu kkunsidrati d-daqs u r-rizorsi ta’ l-organizzazzjoni, in-natura tagħha, l-ispiża stmata, it-tul ta’ żmien qabel l-iskadenza tal-prodotti u s-servizzi u l-benefiċċji possibli ta’ aktar aċċess għal persuni b’diżabiltajiet. Id-direttiva se tapplika biss għal persuni privati sakemm dawn qed iwettqu l-attivitajiet kumemrċjali tagħhom.

Barra minn hekk, qed jintqal li l-iStati Membri se jibqgħu liberi li jżommu miżuri li jiżguraw in-natura sekulari ta’ l-iStat jew dak li jikkonċerna l-istatus u l-attivitajiet ta’ organizzazzjonijeit religjużi. Id-direttiva mhux se jkollha effett fuq prattiċi generali aċċettati bhalma huma tnaqqis fil-prezzijiet għal ċittadini anzjani jew restrizzjonijiet ta’ età għal aċċess ta’ ċerti prodotti bhall-alkohol u t-tabakk għal ragunijiet ta’ sahha pubblika.

Biex tigi żgurata l-effettività tal-miżuri proposti, entitajiet nazzjonali għall-ugwaljanza se jagħtu pariri lill-vittmi ta’ diskriminazzjoni filwaqt li organizzazzjonijiet tas-soċjetà ċivili se jkollhom ukoll il-possibiltà li jgħinu vittmi fi proċeduri legali u amministrattivi.

Waqt li kien hemm kummenti pożittivi għall-fatt li l-iskop tad-direttiva proposta huwa identika għal dawk tad-direttivi li jipprotegu mid-diskriminazzjoni fuq il-bażi ta’ razza, liema diskriminazzjoni tgawdi l-akbar protezzjoni sahansitra aktar minn dik li tista’ ssir minhabba x-xorta tas-sess ta’ dak li jkun, saret insistenza fuq il-htiega ta’ azzjoni akbar biex tkun attakkata d-diskriminazzjoni li qiegħda jew li tista’ ssir għar-ragunijiet ta’ nazzjonalità, kif ukoll minhabba shubija jew attività trejdunjonistika.

Mhix biżżejjed

Kien espress ukoll thassib dwar diversi provedimenti li tagħmel id-direttiva proposta li jistgħu jimminaw l-applikazzjoni tal-prinċipji ta’ l-ugwaljanza u n-non-diskriminazzjoni fil-konfront ta’ persuni lesbjani, gay, bisesswali u transesswali (LGBT) fl-Unjoni Ewropea. B’mod partikolari ssemma’ l-fatt li d-direttiva proposta thalli barra l-protezzjoni kontra trattament differenti fuq il-bażi ta’ l-istatus ta’ żwieg | familja u fil-qasam tad-drittijiet ta’ riproduzzjoni.

Li jkun hemm eċċezzjoni għall-prinċipji ta’ trattament ugwali u non-diskriminazzjoni fuq il-bażi ta’ l-istatus ta’ żwieg | familja se twassal għal diskriminazzjoni għal hafna familji LGBT u għal uliedhom madwar l-UE f’dak li huwa aċċess għall-protezzjoni soċjali, prodotti u servizzi. Ta’ min jgħid li d-diskriminazzjoni u l-iżvantaggi konsegwenzjali li sofrew familji LGBT u uliedhom kienu indikati f’rapport ippubblikat dan l-ahhar mill-Agenzija ta’ l-UE għad-Drittijiet Fundamentali, bhala sors ta’ thassib serju.

Qasam iehor ta’ thassib huwa dak li x-xorta tas-sess ta’ dak li jkun se jsir ir-raguni l-inqas protetta mid-diskriminazzjoni fil-legizlazzjoni ta’ l-UE. Fil-preżent, id-diskriminazzjoni minhabba x-xorta tas-sess ta’ dak li jkun, hija projbita f’oqsma bhalma huwa x-xogħol u l-aċċess għal prodotti u servizzi, iżda mhux f’oqsma ohra bhalma hija l-edukazzjoni. Kienet espressa t-tama li l-Kummissjoni tipproponi u timpenja ruhha li fl-iqsar żmien possibli tindirizza l-inugwaljanza li teżisti f’dawk li huma drittijiet u protezzjonijiet.

Iżda, kollox ma’ kollox, wiehed japprezza l-passi kbar Œil quddiem li huma ppjanati li jsiru permezz tal-proposti li l-Kummissjoni Ewropea qiegħda tagħmel. Wiehed jittama li l-iStati Membri ta’ l-Unjoni Ewropea isegwu lill-Kummissjoni u jagħtu lin-nies kollha ta’ l-UE dak li jimmeritahom u dak li huma intitolati għalih ­ jigifieri r-rispett, id-dinjità u l-ugwaljanza.

Bl-illivellar tad-drittijiet u l-protezzjonijiet mid-diskriminazzjoni, l-UE tkun qiegħda timla’ vojt kbir li jezisti fil-legizlazzjoni tagħha ta’ l-ugwaljanza u n-non-diskriminazzjoni. Tkun ukoll qiegħda tagħti prova li dawn il-prinċpji m’humiex kliem vojta ta’ imgieba politika korretta inkluzi fit-Trattati, izda jfissru li fejn tidhol kull tip ta’ diskriminazzjoni, l-UE tassew tiehu l-affarijiet bl-akbar serjetà.

Għalhekk huwa importanti li l-istituzzjonijiet ta’ l-UE jindirizzaw in-nuqqasijiet li fadal x’jigu rrangati biex tassew nassiguraw li l-prinċipji ta’ l-ugwaljanza u n-non-diskriminazzjoni inkluzi fit-Trattati ta’ l-UE jigu attwati f’mekkanizmi sinifikattivi u effettivi għall-popli kollha tal-Unjoni Ewropea.

Huwa b’hekk biss li jkun assigurat il-qtugħ taz-zarda biex tassew int ma tkunx iddiskriminat.

Times: Pride and prejudice
Monday, 21st July 2008
Christian Peregin

The crowd walked from BayStreet through the centre of Paceville and held a street party outside a gay nightclub, after speeches by representatives of political parties. Photo:

In spite of making Malta's fourth gay pride march more lively than usual, the attendance was still poor. Christian Peregin spoke to Gabi Calleja, chairman of the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM), over reactions to this year's event.

MGRM has been organising the annual gay pride march in Valletta since 2004 but moved to Paceville this year in a bid to attract a larger crowd. In Ms Calleja's own words, this did not happen.

The first Maltese pride march was undeniably an emotional event for the approximately 100 people who gathered at City Gate to walk down Republic Street in Valletta but attendance has not improved much since.

"We hoped that by changing the venue to one frequented mostly by young people, who are more accepting of sexual minorities, we would attract more participants," she said.

Many still fear that coming out will somehow have a negative impact on their lives.

"Some say their sexual orientation or gender identity is a private matter while others simply fail to understand the political importance of such public manifestations," she said.

This year, however, political presence was very strong.

The Labour Party and Alternattiva Demokratika were represented by their leaders, Joseph Muscat and Arnold Cassola, respectively, with regular participants Evarist Bartolo and Patrick Attard. Assistant general secretary Jean-Pierre Debono and Parliamentary Group whip David Agius attended on behalf of the Nationalist Party.

Ms Calleja was pleased that the three parties expressed commitment towards ensuring the recognition of gay rights "to varying degrees" but insisted that the time has come for more concrete steps to be taken.

In her speech at the event, Ms Calleja said gay rights are inalienable human rights LGBT persons are not being allowed to exercise, including the right to marry and set up a family.

MGRM recently presented a petition to the political parties calling for the formal recognition of same-sex couples, the inclusion of an article in the Criminal Code regarding homophobic violence and the inclusion of gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for transgender persons as part of the public health services, among other proposals.

"For a couple of years now, both the major political parties have mentioned the need to provide some form of legal recognition for same sex couples although what form this would take and what rights would be included in such legislation is not clear and very little has been done in concrete terms," Ms Calleja said.

The gay pride march is important because it is both a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans identities as well as a chance to raise awareness and call for equal rights for the LGBT community.

She claims that life for most Maltese LGBT people involves hiding their sexual identities while some experience harassment and violence, even at the hands of family members, especially during the coming out period.

Discrimination tends to occur more often when one enters into a same-sex relationship because this is when one's sexual orientation becomes more visible.

"Many get so used to living with discrimination they come to believe things will never change... They simply have to live with it," she said.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

AD's New Spokespeople

New List of AD Spokespeople:

Education: Mario Mallia
Sustainable Development & Local Government: Carmel Cacopardo
Industry, Energy & Transport: Ralph Cassar
Social Protection & Health: Mary Anne Zammit
Foreign Affairs: Mark Scerri
Democratic Institutions and Civil Rights: Stephen Cachia
Sports: Christian Holland
Agriculture and Animal Welfare: Simon Galea
Gozo: Victor Galea
Communications and IT: Henrik Piski
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Issues: Dr. Patrick Attard
Social and Economic Development: Michael Briguglio
Economic and EU Affairs: Prof. Arnold Cassola
Youth: Deborah Zahra

Friday, 18 July 2008

Pink News: Human Rights Watch calls on EU nations to back discrimination directive
By Tony Grew • July 17, 2008

A New York-based human rights group has called on the member states of the European Union to implement a new directive on discrimination.

"No citizen within the EU should have less protection or less equality than others," said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch.

"An inclusive directive will be a vital step to end discrimination against the millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people living in the European Union."

Gay EU citizens would be entitled to equal treatment in the areas of social protection, including social security and health care, education and access to and supply of goods and services, under the proposal from the European Commission.

It provides for protection from discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

All goods and services which are commercially available to the public, including housing, will be covered by the directive. All forms of discrimination at work are already covered by previous legislation.

EU directives require member states to, for example, deal with discrimination, but leaves it up to the states to decide on the best course of action to take.

"The right to equal treatment is fundamental, but millions of people in the EU continue to face discrimination in their everyday lives," said Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

"At present, there is an inequality in Community legislation itself because people are protected from discrimination outside the workplace only on grounds of gender and race or ethnic origin. We must ensure equal treatment for all grounds.

"The measures we propose are proportionate and reasonable; they give legal certainty to businesses and to users of goods and services while respecting the specific requirements of various sectors as well as national traditions."

However, member states will remain free to "maintain measures ensuring the secular nature of the State or concerning the status and activities of religious organisations."

Now that the Commission has proposed a directive across all strands does not mean the directive will emerge at the other end of the process intact.

"The 27 member states will argue for their bits of exemption, followed by all the different industry lobbies, not to mention groups like the Roman Catholic Church, which has full time lobbyists in Brussels," a European Parliament source told

"Then there are the trades union people - it all gets fought through.

"Then member states have the derogations, where they say ‘OK you can put it in but it doesn't apply to us.’

"Nowadays the European Parliament has a right to get involved.

"And then the next phase, once the directive is actually passed, you start the process of putting it into law.

"The sexual orientation employment regulations came into force in 2003 and were duly implemented in the UK, but I don't think you'll find all 27 states follow it. So it's a long process."

The International Gay and Lesbian Association broadly welcomed the new discrimination directive but said that gay and lesbian people who want to get married will still face discrimination.

Juris Lavrikovs, a spokesman for the group, said he was pleased that education is to be included in the new directive.

"We really appreciate that the proposed directive covers all grounds of discrimination – something we've been working on for months. It's very positive," he told EUobserver.

"There is no reference to differential treatment regarding marriage.

"This maintains unequal treatment of same-sex couples."

The Commission said that marriage is in the "competence" of the member states.

"Marriage is not considered a service," spokeswoman Katharina von Schnubein said.

France’s Presidency of the EU means the discrimination directive is as a priority for the next six months and they will seek to conclude it at the Council of Ministers meeting in December.

Stonewall said that while many of the protections set out in the discrimination directive are already law in the UK, there is still a need for the UK to support them.

"Stonewall believes equality for UK citizens should not stop at the Channel," said spokesman Derek Munn.

“We are also mindful for the need to entrench such protections in the future."

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Star, Malaysia: Ng: Welfare aid for gays, too
Thursday July 17, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: All Malaysians, including homosexuals, can apply and receive welfare aid if they meet the necessary welfare requirements, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen.

"We do not discriminate based on sexual inclination. As long as you are a Malaysian and are entitled to receive welfare aid, we will give it to you, especially the poor.

"We should not judge them as they too are entitled to get help," she said yesterday when asked to comment on a Parliament debate over the presence of homosexuals in the Klang Valley.

Dr Ng said her ministry had submitted a research paper to the Cabinet a month ago on problems faced by homosexuals, including no legal entity.

"According to our research, these non-heterosexuals are often shunned by society, ashamed, laughed at and bullied.

"Most of them are not keen to come forward because of the treatment they had received," she told a press conference yesterday.

On whether the ministry was working on legalising the status of homosexuals, Dr Ng said it was a very complex issue which had to be looked at thoroughly including the religious and cultural aspect.

Earlier, Dr Ng witnessed the presentation of cheques totalling RM15,000 to three welfare homes. The money was collected during a recent month-long programme titled 'Love and Care' organised by Central Market Sdn Bhd in conjunction with Mothers Day and Fathers Day.

She said they were reviewing the allowances received by the disabled to sharpen the delivery system and ensure the deserving ones had quick access to them.

On another matter, Dr Ng said the ministry did not approve the idea of outsourcing fund-raising activities for commission and as a profit-sharing business.

She was commenting on a recent statement by MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong that "licensed beggars' were on the prowl, especially at food outlets seeking donations on behalf of welfare homes with the idea of profit-sharing and receiving commission from the money.

Dr Ng said a show-cause letter would be given to such private homes which were also registered and receiving aid from the ministry.

"We are not against fund-raising but do not do it as a 60:40 business. Be transparent with the donors.

"All the money should go straight to the homes minus the administrative fees and not to an outsourcing company," she added.

Times: Gay rights and long political overhauls
Thursday, 17th July 2008, Ranier Fsadni

W hat do esthe ultra-liberal EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) have in common with George W. Bush? The idea that laws about gay marriage can be imposed from a federal centre on individual states.

Of course, President Bush would have liked to make gay marriage unconstitutional in the US while the newly-set up FRA believes it should be legalised across the EU. But despite wanting opposite outcomes, their reasoning is the same.

The FRA has stated that it is wrong for Malta and another 10 member states not to recognise same-sex marriages and partnerships contracted elsewhere in the Union. Such non-recognition, according to the agency, infringes the principle of free movement as it restricts the ease of family reunification for same-sex spouses. But it was exactly the same principle of free movement that Mitt Romney used just a few months ago to justify why he believed gay marriage should be made illegal by the US Constitution. Mr Romney was then a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination and seeking to attract the social conservative vote, which delivered the White House to Mr Bush in 2004.

Mr Romney was being interviewed by Charlie Rose, who hosts one of the most thoughtful discussion programmes on US TV. Mr Rose asked Mr Romney whether there was a contradiction between his positions on abortion and gay marriage: for Mr Romney argues that abortion laws should be left up to individual state legislatures while gay marriage should be outlawed at the federal level.

To explain why he saw no contradiction, Mr Romney enunciated the same principle as the FRA: Precisely because with gay marriages you have people moving across state boundaries demanding that contracts they signed elsewhere are recognised wherever they settle, the law against such marriages needs to transcend individual states.

The FRA cites freedom of movement in the context of equality; President Bush and the US social conservative movement do not see the principle of equality as being violated in this instance. That is a fundamental difference. But it is a difference one can find also in Europe; not just in the 11 states that do not recognise gay marriages or partnerships but across the Union, where gay marriage has generally sparked very heated debates that in their wake left a great sense of anger and injustice on both sides.

There are two points worth drawing from this parallel. Worth drawing both because of the online debate that threaded this newspaper's report on the FRA (July 1) and because of demand for equality made at last Saturday's Gay Pride March by Gabi Calleja, the coordinator of the Malta Gay Rights Movement. Online, some debaters opined that people opposing gay rights were a dying breed, like dinosaurs. But the evidence for this is scant. Yes, more gay rights are being recognised in Europe. Yet, the US passed through a similar liberalising phase in the 1960s and 1970s, only to experience a backlash later. In the 1980s, the backlash was disguised as a reaction to the emerging Aids epidemic but by the election of George W. Bush in 2000 there was no disguising it.

President Bush was never in a strong enough position to make gay marriage unconstitutional. But he was in a position to keep talking about it, to make a small minority a culturally central question and thus to make being gay a discomfiting political issue for homosexual people.

Here enters the second lesson from the US experience. It would be short sighted to question this comparison by retorting that this would never happen in Europe.

In the 1960s, the mood of the liberalising US courts, led by the Earl Warren's Supreme Court, was comparable to that of the FRA and the European Parliament today. It seemed as though the age of progress had hit a point of no return.

Instead, it seems to have been the liberal high point of a long political cycle. Later, at the liberal low point, the same institutional instruments were used - or there was a strong threat to use them - to reverse such reforms. It is good to remember that the institutions one uses to win a political battle today may be used against one's own cause in the future.

And there are good reasons to assume that there will be, at some point, a conservative backlash in Europe if the pan-European institutions continue down the current path of pushing socially-liberal reforms on member states without attempting to win the arguments by persuasion.

Winning the argument is important because it secures whatever is gained. And to persuade, one must argue from within society. There is a good case to be made for gay rights, to show that many such rights are commensurable with the values of mainstream society. But so far, the case is too rarely made.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

2008 Gay Pride Images

Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Prof. Arnold Cassola (AD Leader), Dr. Joseph Muscat (MLP Leader), Bernard Muscat (MGRM Organiser) talking before the Pride March.

Evarist Bartolo (Labour M.P., wearing white trousers) together with Dr. Owen Bonnici (Labour M.P., wearing a light blue shirt).
Marching through Paceville.

View more images of the 2008 Gay Pride March at
You need to log-in to be able to view the Gallery.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

MGRM Pride Speech: Malta Gay Pride 2008

12 July 2008
Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) Address, by Gabi Calleja

We have often been made to feel ashamed of our identities as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons; made to believe that there was something wrong with us; made to think that we are a somewhat flawed version of a human being. Despite increasing awareness and a greater degree of acceptance, particularly among young people, so many of us continue to struggle with accepting ourselves, with coming out to our family, friends and colleagues. And so our theme this year – LIVE, LOVE, BE.

We want to urge you to LIVE your lives fully, free from fear of harassment and discrimination. We encourage you to rejoice in your relationships and to express your LOVE openly for it is what makes our lives worth living and what most distinguishes us as human beings. We ask you to BE who you are without shame despite the often negative labels society places on us.

I have this year been called a ‘gay rights fundamentalist’ by a reputable newspaper columnist so perhaps you should be wary of my next claim.

I tell you I already have the right to marry; I already have the right to found a family; I already have the right to be a parent; I already have the right to freedom from harassment and discrimination in all areas of life. I have these rights because they belong to all of us who form part of the human race. Nobody can take away these rights from me. To believe they could, is to think that I was a lesser form of human being.

You may be more intelligent, more powerful, wiser, certainly more beautiful, richer, better educated, more talented but you cannot be more equal, for equality is our birthright as human beings. So when the Malta Gay Rights Movements, among other things, requests of politicians that they grant legal recognition to same sex partnerships what we are demanding is that we be allowed to exercise an already existing right. And every day that goes by without that legislation is a violation of that right.

When our judiciary earlier this year denied a woman the possibility of getting married simply because of her trans status, it violated her right as a human being. It is not I who have come to this conclusion, but the European Court of Human Rights. Each day our legislature fails to enact laws and policies that give access to adequate health care to trans persons and that facilitate their transition is a violation of their dignity as human beings.

Every time a young gay man or woman commits suicide because we fail to educate parents and children to understand and accept sexual minorities we are failing as a society.

So I say shame on you. Shame on you for not recognizing that we are all equal and that having to ask that our rights be recognized is in itself an infringement of our dignity as persons.

In October of 2009 the Malta Gay Rights Movement will host the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s European Region conference. It is for us an important and significant undertaking. Two hundred LGBT activists will visit Malta for 5 days for this annual gathering which takes place in different cities around Europe each year. We hope that it will serve as an impetus for our politicians to demonstrate that this country is respectful of all its citizens and is committed to equality by introducing much needed policies and laws and by endorsing the European Commission’s proposals for a new anti-discrimination directive in the provision of goods and services.

I would like to end by thanking all those who have been involved in the organization of this Diverscity week which as you may imagine takes quite some doing and in particular all those who participated in the Pride March and the rest of this evening’s celebrations. Also the representatives from the political parties and other NGO’s, the MGRM volunteers and our partners this year, Klozet Club, QQ Events, Stanyer Creations, Underworld, Station 2 Station and SaModa. A big thank you also to our sponsors GO and Where’s Everybody. Good night.

View images of the Gay Pride March at
You need to log-in to be able to view the Gallery.

Id-Diskors tiegħi fil-'Malta Gay Pride 2008'

(see English translation below)

12 ta' Lulju 2008
minn Patrick Attard

Nixtieq nibda biex ngħid prosit lil organizzaturi tal-Gay Pride.

Jien l-Spokesperson on Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgender on issues jew bil-malti: kelliem għal nies li huma… ‘hekk’.

Ma nafx kif il-Partit Nazzjonalista ma bagħtx lil David Casa illum, peress li s-Sur Casa tant jiġġieled kontra d-diskriminazzjoni fil-gay bars ta’ Brussell, imma jbati biex jikkundanna vjolenza, tortura u diskriminazzjoni fuq gays fil-parlament Ewropew.

Għalfejn illum hawn dan l-għaġeb kollu fuq iż-żwieġ jew partnership bejn koppji gay. Irriduh ghax ‘cool’ jew ghax pajjiżi oħrajn għandhom u rridu nagħmlu bħalhom? Ha ngħidilkom storja vera ta’ żewġ ħbieb tiegħi spanjoli li żżwewġu tlett snin ilu.

Juan u Toni ilhom flimkien erbatax il-sena. Iżżewġu meta fl-2005 Zapatero daħħal iż-żwieġ bejn koppji gay. Kien żwieġ vera umli. Marru ghaċ-ċerimonja b’tal-linja. Iċ-ċerimonja damet inqas minn tlett minuti u lanqas ċrieket ma taw lil xulxin. Wara marru b’tal-linja ġo restaurant biex jieklu mal-familji tagħhom.

Prof. Cassola (xellug) iżomm ritratt ta' Toni u Juan u Dr. Inġ. Patrick Attard.

Mela għalfejn dan l-għageb kollu? X’hemm daqshekk importanti fil-partnership bejn gays.

Ftit snin ilu Juan qabdu kanċer go għajnu u din kellha titneħħa. Kien hemm ukoll biża' kbira li l-kanċer seta infirex f’ġismu.

Peress li l-Toni u Juan qed joqorbu l-erbgħin sena il-ġenituri tagħhom anzjani u ma tantx setgħu jgħinu. Toni talab ghal-leave mix-xogħol biex ikun ma’ Juan u dan ingħata il-leave mill-ewwel għax ir-raġel tiegħu kien marid. Hu kien dejjem miegħu fl-isptar u f’każ li l-affarijiet imorru hażin kien jigi mistoqsi fuq kull deċisjoni li tittieħed.

Għalhekk importanti l-urgent family leave jew il-bereavement leave fil-każ ta’ mewt. Jekk il-boss tiegħek ma jħallikx tieħu leave fl-aktar hin diffiċli fil-ħajja ikompli jżid it-trauma ta’ l-armel.

U għalhekk inweġġa meta qassissin qabel l-elezzjoni ħeġġu lin-nies biex ma jivvutawx ghal-Alternattiva għax favur id-drittjiet tal-koppji gay. Dan juri li forsi dawn il-qassissin ma fehmux eżatt fuq liema drittijiet qed nitkellmu u kemm bil-kliem iebes tagħhom jistgħu iweġġgħu nies.

Il-knisja dejjem tipprova żżomm l-imħabba bejn persuni gay bħala maħmuġa u lleġillittima peress li tikseb is-saħħa mis-sens ta’ ħtija u mistħija (guilt and shame) li tiprrova tnissel fin-nies. Madanakollu nafu li–knisja Maltija mhix pożżizzjoni li tkun il-boxla tal-moralita’ f’pajjiżna. Pereżempju importanti li ngħidu li nies li huma sseparati u qed ipoġġu jiġu mħeġġa mill-qassissin biex imorru jitqarbnu f’paroċċa il-bogħod mill-lokalita. Din hi ipokrizija kbira għax min jemmen fit-tqarbin jemmen li tqarbina f’parroċċa għandha l-istess effett bħal tqarbina f’paroċċa oħra u turi l-ipokrezija kbira li ngħamlu kollox għal għajn in-nies. Iktar minn hekk hu ta’ dispjaċir li nies li għaddejjin min separazzjoni ma’ jingħatawx xogħol bħala għalliema fi skejjel tal-knisja u aktar jsofru tbatija.

Ir-risultat ta’ dan it-tgħalim konfuż hu missier li fuq is-sodda tal-mewt tiegħu ma jkellimx lit-tifel tiegħu għax kien gay. Omm li tgħid li kieku kienet taf lit-tifel kien se jkun gay kienet tagħmel abort. Missier li jgħid li jippreferi kieku t-tifel kellu l-marda tal-kanċer milli jgħid li hu gay.

Jien is-sena l-oħra iltqajt ma’ l-E.T. Arċisqof Cremona u għidtlu x-xewqa kbira tiegħi li nies ta’ twemmin differenti jistgħu jghixu f’armonija fl-istess pajjiż.

Jien għidt lil Arcisqof li hawn familji li ilhom snin ma jieklu flimkien għax it-tifel ikun gay. Hemm waħda lizbjana li ilha aktar minn 15-il sena ma tiekol ikla ma familtha.

Jien issuggerejtlu biex fil-messaġġ li jirrekordja fi żmien il-Għid li jixxandar fil-knejjes bil-cassette biex iħeggeġ lin-nisa tad-dar jistiednu liġ-ġara isseparata għat-te' u t-tifel gay għall-ikla tal-Ħadd ta’ wara nofs in-nhar. L-Arcisqof dak in-nhar irrifjuta. Jien ħsibt li hu ha jifimni ghax hu bħali… ma jafx isajjar. Nixtieq nerġa nagħmillu appell biex jaghmel il-dan messaġġ biex vera nibnu pontijiet ta’ rieda tajba, u jekk 10 ommijiet jisimgħu minnu ikun diġa' għaqqad 10 familji.

Huwa importanti ngħidu li jekk ikun hemm partnership bejn koppji gay, dan mhu se jtellef xejn lil nies li ma jaqblux ma dan u mhux se ttelifhom milli jghixu ħajjithom bil-kwiet.

Irridu nqumu bil-wieqfa kontra l-ipokrizija u flimkien niġġieldu l-Injoranza, l-Intolleranza u l-Mibgheda, għax kif qalulna ftit ilu Flimkien Kollox Possibli!!

I would like to say well done to the organisers of this gay pride march.

I am the spokesperson on Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgender issues, or in maltese, spokesperson for people who are like 'that'.

I dont know why the Nationalist Party didn´t send the MEP David Casa today, since Mr. Casa really fights against discrimination in the gay bars in Brussels but then fails to condemn violence, torture and discrimination on gays in the european parliament.

Why is there today such a fuss on gay marriage or civil partnership. Do we want it because it´s cool or we want to copy other countries? I'll tell you a true story of 2 spanish friends of mine who were married 3 years ago.

Juan and Toni have been together for 14 years. They got married when Zapatero introduced gay marriage. It was a very humble cermony. They went to the wedding by bus, the cermony lasted no more than 3 minutes and they didn´t even have rings. Afterwards they went by bus to eat in a restaurant with their families.

So why is there all this fuss? What is so important between a partnership between 2 gays.

A few years ago Juan had a cancer in his eye which had to be removed. There was a fear that the cancer might have spread to other parts of his body.

Since Toni and Juan are close to 40 years of age and their parents are getting old, their parents couldn´t help much. Toni asked for urgent family leave at work to be with Juan and it was given to him immediately because his husband was sick. He could stay in hospital and in case of difficulties he would be informed of any decision taken.

This is why the urgent family leave or bereavement leave are important in case of death. If your boss fails to give you the leave when the partner dies, it makes life more difficult and complicates the trauma of the surviving partner.

And this is why I was hurt when priests were encouraging the followers not to vote for AD before the election because we are in favour of gay rights. Maybe these priests didn´t understand what rights are we talking about and they can cause a lot of suffering with their harsh words.

The church always tries to keep the gay love as dirty and illegitimate since it gets its power from the sense of guilt and shame it tries to instil in its followers. On the other hand we know that the Maltese Church is not in a position to be the moral compass in our country. It is important to note that separated people who are co-habitating with a partner (note divorce is illegal) are not allowed to receive Holy communion in their local church and are encouraged to go to another locality far away. This is a huge hypocricy since those who believe in Holy Communion believe that the Communion in one Church has the same value as the Communion in another Church and shows that we do everything so that people don´t talk about us behind our back. Furthermore, it is sad that those persons who are currently separated and apply to work as a teacher is a church-school are not employed, increasing their suffering even further.

The result of this confused teaching is a father who on his deathbed doesn´t talk to his son because he is gay; a mother who says she would have had an abortion had she known her son would turn out to be gay; a father who prefers to have a son who is diagnosed with cancer, than a gay son.

Last year I met H.E. Archbishop Cremona and told him of my big wish that people of different beliefs can live in harmony in the same country.

I told the Archbishop that there are families who haven´t eaten together for a long time since their son is gay. There is a lesbian in particular who hasn´t had a lunch with her family for 15 years.

I suggested that in his message which he records during Easter time, which is played on cassette in all the Churches, that he should encourage the housewives to invite their separated neighbour for tea and their gay son for Sunday Lunch. That day the Archbishop refused. I thought he would understand me beacuse he, like me.... doesn´t know how to cook. I would to make the appeal again publicly so that we truly can build good-will bridges.

It is important to say that if there is a partnership between gay couples, this would not affect the lives of those who disagree with it and they can still live their life in peace.

We have to stand up against the hyprocricy and fight the ignorance, intolerance and hatred because as someone told us, "Everything is Possible when we stick together" (this was the PN- conservatives´- motto for the past election)

Edge Boston: Gays, Atheists, Others Set to Protest Papal Visit Down Under
by Kilian Melloy
Monday Jul 14, 2008 reported in a July 13 article that Pope Benedict’s visit spurred GLBT Sydney, Australia residents to stand up for acceptance.

The Pope was in Australia for World Youth Day, which is reportedly a Roman Catholic celebration. Gays and lesbians of faith responded to the pontiff’s visit with a special mass, attended by about 100 people, at Pitt St. Uniting Church in Sydney, reported.

Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon of Uniting Church pointed out the red carpet that ran along the aisle and to the altar, saying to the congregation, "On this carpet lie the tears of many people who have been turned away as those who are not worthy to walk it--who have been betrayed by Christ’s church."

Continued Rev. McRae-McMahon, "They experienced hate or judgment, simply because they were not like others, or because they loved in different ways."

Declared the reverend, "On this day as we claim our place, we place our feet on the pathway of faith."

Another minister, Anthony Venn-Brown, a Pentecostal, said that every person of faith, and not juts religious leaders, had a responsibility to resist and work against prejudice.

Said Venn-Brown, "We should do all we can to educate and inform ourselves and others."

The Pope’s journey was meant to include words of comfort to Australian Catholics for the world-wide pedophile priest scandal.

The scandal broke in Boston, Mass., but as the shock waves from the scandal spread around the globe, victims in many countries worldwide stepped forward to share their stories of being molested and sexually abused by priests.

Although pedophilia is distinct from homosexuality and more than 95 percent of pedophiles are heterosexual, the Church’s response to the scandal has been to bar openly gay men from entering seminaries and monasteries.

Some Australians had planned to protest the papal visit because of the sex scandal that has eroded trust and angered Catholics world-wide. Others planned protests because of the Church’s stance on marriage equality and other GLBT equality issues. But a new law passed by the Australian government that bans "annoying" behavior by demonstrators at the Catholic festival sought to circumvent such behavior, reported This text will be the link last week.

That new law has whipped new protesters into a frenzy, with free-speech advocates, atheists, and birth control advocates joining in with gays and lesbians and others to hand out condoms to World Youth Day participants and wear satirical T-shirts with messages such as, "This T-Shirt is Annoying."

The result, which calls itself the NoToPope Coalition, had planned a July 19 march despite the new law, under which demonstrators could face a fine in excess of $5,000.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Copenhagen Post: Gays less likely to divorce


Waiting to get married appears to be the key to living happily ever after

When homosexual couples agree to stick with each other until death do them part, they are more likely mean it than than heterosexual couples, according to recent statistics from the National Association of Gays and Lesbians.

Only 17 percent of same-sex marriages end in divorce, while half of traditional marriages do.

According to association spokesperson Stig Laursen, the reason could be that homosexuals tend to get married later and live together before doing so than mixed-gender couples do.

'I really don't think gays and lesbians are any better spouses than anybody else,' he said.

Marriage therapist Gitte N�rskov said the survey debunked the myth of homosexuals as promiscuous. She said the older people wait to get married, the more successful they tend to be.

'You've got more experience, and you have a better idea of what a relationship is all about,' she said.

Laursen suggested that should same-sex couples considering adopting or having children through artificial insemination should consider getting married first.

'Otherwise, custody issues are unclear if you do wind up splitting up.' (km)

It-Torċa: Wara 17-il sena midfun f’qabar jitlob ‘l Alla jagħmlu normali…Jitratta kwistjonijiet ikkomplikati u jaqsam lill-udjenza bid-daħk (Dan l-artiklu mhux fuq is-sit s'issa)
13 ta' Lulju 2008


Minn natura tagħhom, diffiċli li tittratta kwistjonijiet ikkomplikati, u aktar li tnissel tbissima fuq fomm dak li jkun meta tagħmel dan. Għal Peterson Toscano, din il-ħaġa m’hi xejn diffiċli, anzi meta jitla’ fuq palk u jitkellem bis-serjetà dwar problemi jaħarqu u diffiċli, bl-aktar mod naturali kapaċi jifqa’ lill-udjenza bid-daħk. Meqjus bħala fula f’qargħa fost professjonisti fil-kamp artistiku tiegħu, diffiċli tirrikonċilja l-fatt li dan il-bniedem għamel aktar minn sbatax-il sena metaforikament midfun f’qabar, jitlob ‘l Alla jagħmlu normali u nefaq $30,000 fi tliet kontinenti f’attentat iddisprat li jibdel jew għallinqas jgħakkes l-orjentament sesswali tiegħu.

Għax minkejja dan il-konflitt kollu, Peterson Toscano illum il-ġurnata huwa magħruf sew għall-ħiliet tiegħu bħala poeta, attur, kittieb tal-kummiedji, stand-up comedian, attivist omosesswali u fuq kollox huwa Nisrani devot. U b’artistrija komika mill-aqwa, il-mod mhux tas-soltu ta’ kif iħares u jinterpreta l-affarijiet, iħalli impatt kbir fuq l-udjenza u jisirqilha l-attenzjoni sħiħa tagħha, jekk mhux ukoll qalbha.

U din forsi hija l-isbaħ ħaġa tax-xogħlijiet teatrali tiegħu għax mhix is-sura tradizzjonali ta’ kif wieħed iwassal il-messaġġ tiegħu. Fil-veru sens tal-kelma, joffri esperjenza, mimlija daħk u mumenti ta’ intimità u ta’ sorpriża li jolqtu l-għeruq profondi tal-pubbliku li jkollu quddiemu. L-istorja unika ta’ ħajtu ħaditu f’postijiet tal-ġenn u laqqgħetu ma’ sitwazzjonijiet li kapaċi jkissruk fil-veru sens tal-kelma, iżda minkejja kollox irnexxielu joħroġ minn dan kollu b’tama u serenità. Għal ħafna, dan jista’ jidher bħala misteru, iżda il-mod ta’ kif jaqsam l-esperjenzi tiegħu, jikxef ħafna mill-veritajiet li mhux ftit huma dawk li jaħbuhom u josstruhom minn dawk ta’ madwarhom.

Meqjus bħala avveniment uniku għal pajjiżna, issa l-pubbliku Malti se jingħata l-opportunità li jara u jisma’ lil Peterson Toscano jippreżenta tnejn mill-aqwa xogħlijiet teatrali tiegħu: ‘The Re-Education of George W. Bush’ u ‘Transfiguration – Trangressing Gender in the Bibble’. Dan se jsir bl-inizjattiva tal-grupp Drachma bil-kollaborazzjoni sħiħa ta’ Warehouse No. 8, nhar il-Ġimgħa, 18 u s-Sibt, 19 ta’ Lulju.

Konflitt intern

Imwieled fl-Amerika minn ġenituri ta’ dixxendenza Taljana fis-17 ta’ Frar, 1965, Toscano beda jikkumbatti kontra l-konflitt intern li beda jħoss sa minn żgħoritu. Bilkemm kellu tlettax-il sena li l-ġibdiet li beda jħoss lejn persuni ta’ l-istess sess tiegħu ma nisslux fih biża’ kbir għax dejjem kien mgħallem li dawn huma affarijiet "maħmuġin" u "xejn naturali".

Is-sens ta’ ħtija li beda jħoss wasslu biex jagħmel it-tagħlim tal-Knisja fiċ-ċentru ta’ ħajtu. Beda jħares lejn id-devozzjoni li kellu lejn il-Knisja kemm bħala speċi ta’ ribelljoni kontra l-fidi mhux daqstant qawwija tal-familja konservattiva tiegħu, kif ukoll irtirata mix-xewqat sesswali li kellu. Beda jagħti aktar importanza lill-kelma miktuba milli lit-tifsira tagħha u qatta’ ħinijiet twal il-knisja fejn sar ukoll membru attiv ta’ organizzazzjoni taż-żgħażagħ tagħha. Jgħid li ta’ ħmistax-il sena, waqt li kien fil-kamra tiegħu, ħass il-preżenza ta’ Alla u dan l-inkontru saħħaħlu aktar il-fidi tiegħu.

Wasslu wkoll biex fetaħ qalbu ma’ żewġ nisa li bħalu kienu jiffrekwentaw il-knisja u dawn, waqt li qalulu li kien "twieled mill-ġdid", għamlulu l-kuraġġ biex ikellem lill-qassis responsabbli mill-parroċċa tagħhom. Hekk kif sema’ bit-taqbida li kellu kontra l-orjentament sesswali tiegħu, il-qassis ħadu taħt idejh u beda jagħtih il-pariri u jgħinu jimmemorizza partijiet sħaħ mill-Bibbja b’mod li biddillu għall-kollox il-mod ta’ kif kien iħares lejn il-ħajja ta’ madwaru.

Għall-ewwel beda jaħseb li kull ma ried jagħmel kien li jimla’ ħajtu b’Ġesù u bil-Bibbja, u jibdel ix-xewqat ħżiena b’dawk tajbin. Kien jisħaq miegħu nnifsu li assolutament ma riedx ikun persuna gay għax kien jemmen li dawn jgħixu ħajja ta’ dnub, ħajja li ma kienetx normali, u hu ried li jkun tifel tajjeb. Iżda, minkejja li ma kienx jitlef attività organizzata mill-knisja li kien jiffrekwenta u minkejja l-biżibilju ta’ kotba li qara dwar l-omosesswalità, xorta waħda baqa’ jħoss il-ġibdiet sesswali għal persuni ta’ l-istess sess tiegħu u sab li aktar ma kien jipprova jgħakkishom, inqas kien qed jirnexxielu.

Ta’ sbatax-il sena rrealizza li dan kollu ma kien qed iservih għal xejn, u għalhekk irrikorra għand professjonisti fi ħdan il-Knisja biex jidderieġuh huma. U minn hawn beda l-vjaġġ tiegħu mifrux fuq kważi 20 sena li ħadu f’Żambja, l-Ingilterra u l-Ekwador. Nefaq aktar minn $30,000 f’sessjonijiet ta’ terapija u saħansitra għamlulu tliet eżorċiżmi b’tama li joħroġ minn ġo fih il-ħażen li kien jemmen qed jikkontrollalu ħajtu.

Jaħrab it-tentazzjoni

Billi dejjem xtaq li jsir attur u kittieb ta’ drammi, huwa daħal l-Università ta’ New York fejn studja t-teatru u l-letteratura Ingliża. Kien iggradwa mis-City College ta’ New York u beda jagħmel xogħol teatrali professjonali, meqjus bħala avant garde, fi New York. Iżda meta sab li ħafna minn dawk li kien qed jaħdem magħhom kienu ta’ orjentazzjoni omosesswali, għażel li jabbanduna t-teatrali biex jaħrab kull tentazzjoni li tpinġih ikraħ quddiem Alla.

Baqa’ jgħix fi New York u meta kellu 25 sena żżewweġ mara għax kien jemmen f’dak li tgħid il-Knisja, li l-mirakli jseħħu għax Alla jista’ kollox. U dan iż-żwieġ miraklu kellu bżonn biex jirnexxi għax fil-verità hu ma kienx sesswalment miġbud lejn in-nisa. Il-miraklu tant mixtieq u mistenni, baqa’ ma seħħx u ż-żwieġ tiegħu tfarrak wara li ħoloqlu ħafna aktar problemi u uġiegħ milli solvihomlu.

Qabel dan seħħ, iżda, huwa mar bħala missjunarju f’Żambja fejn kien responsabbli mill-programmi tad-drama fuq ir-radju. Issa li tkun raġel miġbud lejn irġiel oħrajn, tkun tgħix f’Żambja u taħdem għal missjoni Kristjana, żgur li ma kienetx ir-riċetta ideali tant li wara ftit taż-żmien spiċċa biex kellu jaħrab minn hemm għax f’Żambja kienet ħaġa illegali li tkun gay.

Matul dawn is-snin kollha, Peterson Toscano kien iħoss li qed jgħix f’qabar, jiġġieled b’saħħtu kollha kontra l-ġibdiet sesswali tiegħu lejn irġiel oħrajn bħalu, jitlob lil ‘l Alla li jagħmlu "normali". Meta sab ruħu maqbud fi sqaq li ma jinfidx, irrikorra għall-aħħar tama li kellu, dik li jidħol jagħmel programm terapewtiku residenzjali ‘Love in Action’ li matul is-sentejn li għamel hemmhekk, ħadu fi New York, Colorado, l-Ingilterra, Tennessee u l-Ekwador. Kien iħoss li din kienet l-aħħar opportunità fit-taqbida tiegħu li jsib il-fejqan mill-ġibdiet omosesswali tiegħu.

Maqtugħ minn kważi l-bqija tad-dinja, hawnhekk għex ħajja iebsa u kellu jieħu sehem f’attivitajiet li jwaħħxu, iżda minn dan kollu ma qatax qalbu għax kien jemmen li bit-talb u b’dak kollu li kien qed jiġi sottomess li jagħmel, kien se jbiddel l-orjentament sesswali tiegħu, għallinqas hekk kienu ttambrulu f’moħħu. Minn dan il-programm kien iggradwa b’suċċess iżda kellu jirritorna wara ftit xhur, għax kien reġa’ waqa’, fejn għamel programm ieħor ta’ erba’ xhur.

Iqum mill-koma

Reġa ħareġ b’determinazzjoni kbira li jwettaq fil-prattika dak kollu li tgħallem, sakemm għodwa waħda fis-sena 1999, qam mill-"koma" li kien fiha u rrealizza li dak kollu li għamel u li kien qed jipprova jagħmel, ma kien xejn ħlief process li kien qiegħed, fil-veru sens tal-kelma, iġennu bil-mod il-mod. Wasal għall-konklużjoni li xejn ma kien qed jaħdem. Il-bidla ma kienetx possibli, għallinqas mhux bidla fl-orjentament sesswali. Iżda matul is-snin kollha li pprova jinbidel, fil-fatt kien inbidel. Sar persuna suwiċida, mimli mistħija u mibgħeda lejh innifsu. Il-proċess terapewtiku minflok bidlu f’persuna eterossesswali, fil-fatt kien kissru emozzjonalment u psikoloġikament. Kien fillġu fiżikament, neżżgħu minn kull dinjità, seraqlu kull nitfa ta’ kuraġġ u tefgħu f’dispressjoni qawwija. Kien process li kkawżalu ħsara emozzjonali, psikoloġika u spiritwali.

Wara li ammetta li kien qed jgħix f’gidba miegħu nnifsu u ma’ dawk ta’ madwaru, aċċetta li fl-aħħar mill-aħħar kien persuna gay u hekk, bl-għajnuna tal-familja u l-ħbieb tiegħu, beda jgħix ħajtu mill-ġdid. Għalkemm għall-bidu kien diffiċli għalih, huwa reġa’ sab lil ‘l Alla. Reġa beda jikteb xogħlijiet għat-teatru u l-ewwel biċċa xogħol kienet imsemmija "Footprints: An Inspirational Comedy", meditazzjoni komika fuq il-poeżija magħrufa "Footprints in the Sand".

Dan kien il-bidu f’mixja li tulha qatt ma ħares lura. Fil-kitbiet tiegħu huwa ispirat mill-poeżija, mill-Bibbja u kitbiet oħrajn kif ukoll intervisti estensivi. Huwa ppreżenta x-xogħlijiet teatrali tiegħu tista’ tgħid fl-istati kollha ta’ l-Amerika ta’ Fuq, fil-Kanada u fl-Ewropa, waqt li jidher regolarment fuq it-televiżjoni Amerikan u anke f’films. Deher ukoll fil-film dokumentarju ‘Fish Can’t Fly’, li jesplora l-konflitt li ħafna lesbjani u gays kellhom mal-fidi Nisranija tagħhom.

Fis-sena 2003 kien ippreżenta s-satira "Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House’ dwar l-esperjenzi tiegħu fil-programm ex-gay, ‘Love in Action’, fejn jinterpreta sitt personaġġi differenti. Xogħlijiet oħrajn jinkludu fost oħrajn ‘Queer 101’, ‘How the Indians Discovered Columbus’, ‘The Re-Education of George W. Bush’ u ‘Transfigurations – Transgressing Gender in the Bibble’.

F’Malta wkoll

Fis-sena 2007, flimkien ma’ Christine Bakke li wkoll kienet għamlet il-programm terapewtiku ‘Out of Love’, Peterson Toscano illanċja ‘Beyond Ex-Gay’ (bXg), riżorsa on-line li jgħin persuni oħra li għamlu programmi terapewtiċi simili. Hu regolarment ikun mistieden jitkellem f’konferenzi nazzjonali dwar il-ħsara li jistgħu jikkawżaw terapiji mmirati li jbiddlu l-orjentament sesswali ta’ persuni lesbjani u gay. Fl-preżent, huwa jgħix f’Hartford, Connecticut, u huwa membru attiv ta’ l-għaqda reliġjuża Religious Society of Friends (Quaker).

Kien bl-inizjattiva tal-grupp LGBT Kattoliku, Drachma, li Peterson Toscano aċċetta b’ċerta ħerqa li jiġi wkoll Malta fejn, b’kollaborazzjoni sħiħa ma’ Warehouse No. 8, se jippreżenta għall-ewwel darba lill-pubbliku Malti tnejn mill-aqwa xogħlijiet teatrali tiegħu fit-teatru Warehouse No.8, fil-Marsa. Il-biljetti qegħdin jinbiegħu bil-prezz ta’ €11 kull biljett jew €15 għaż-żewġ rappreżentazzjonijiet.

Nhar il-Ġimgħa, 18 ta’ Lulju, huwa se jippreżenta ‘The Re-Education of George W. Bush’ fejn permezz tad-diversi karattri maħluqin u maħdumin minnu, jagħti lezzjoni lil George Bush u lill-udjenza tiegħu dwar: l-istorja, il-gwerer, il-privileġġ tal-kulur tal-ġilda, l-ambjent, is-sessiżmu, il-qari żbaljat tal-Bibbja, l-umanità u ħafna aktar.

L-għada, is-Sibt, 19 ta’ Lulju, ikun imiss li tkun ippreżentata l-kummiedja ‘Transfigurations - Transgressing Gender in the Bible’. Hawnhekk, Petreson Toscano jagħti ħarsa mhux tas-soltu lejn l-iskrittura Ebrajka u dik Nisranija, bl-attenzjoni tiegħu mitfugħa fuq karattri transesswali jew tax-xorta ta’ sess omosesswali, liema individwi huma magħrufin jew mhux daqstant magħrufin iżda li kellhom sehem kbir fil-ġrajjiet irrakkontati fil-Bibbja.

"L-iskop tiegħi huwa li indaħħak lin-nies sakemm ma jkunux jifilħu jidħku aktar u jkun f’dan il-mument li b’mod niġġiż noħroġ fid-deher l-umaniżmu ta’ l-esperjenza omosesswali u nikxef l-uġigħ li jħossu dawk li b’mod iddisprat iridu jew jixtiequ jkun xi ħaġa li m’humiex", jispjega Peterson Toscano.