Dr. Ing. Patrick Attard, Alternattiva Demokratika´s Spokesperson for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Issues was invited to address a conference on Human Rights and Sexual Diversity in Bogotá, Colombia (26-27th November). He was asked to deliver a speech on his experience as the first openly gay parliamentary candidate for the Maltese Parliament.
Other speakers hailed from Colombia, Dominician Republic, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Canada and talked about their experiences in their countries.
Dr. Ing. Attard focussed on the need for the recognition of the beloved partner in the most difficult times of one´s life and that Hospital Visitation Rights should be granted together with the rights to take health related decisions for the sick partner.
Dr. Ing. Attard stressed on the importance of the urgent-family leave in case of serious illness or accident of the partner. Furthermore he noted the importance of the bereavement leave in case of death of the partner. If such rights are not granted, the ordeal of the surviving partner is increased considerably since he wouldn´t be able to grieve.
This in turn could have serious effects on the mental well being of the surviving partner, making her/him less productive. It is in the State´s interest to support the surviving people in their most difficult times in their lives, so that they can start working again -and paying taxes, as early as possible.
From a business point of view it is important not to under-estimate the importance of gay tourism - especially at this difficult economic time, since gay couples tend to spend more money on travelling than their straight counterparts.
The 2 day conference was attended by a large audience (over 400 people), including some members of the police force. In Colombia hate crimes against transgendered people are common.
David Sánchez Camacho, a Mexican Federal Member of Parliament, noted the importance of outing gay MPs who vote in a homophobic manner. Dr. Attard added that in this way we show that we have more respect for them than they have for themselves, even though it´s a very difficult decision considering that persons have a number of personal issues.
Dr. Attard explained that whilst in Chile divorce was introduced 5 years ago, in Malta divorce is still not available so it is understandable that gay relationships are not yet recognised.
Dr. Ing. Attard with Ms. Solano (organiser) and Senator Piedad Cordoba (right).