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 www.maltagayrights.net.
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