Wednesday, 30 September 2009

MGRM: Letter to Members of Parliament - On Equality
28 September 2009 by Malta Gay Rights Movement [email]

[See the Media Coverage on the Times and Orizzont.]

The Malta Gay Rights Movement wishes to bring to the attention of the Members of Parliament the discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families continue to suffer due to the lack of legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.

LGBT families are a part of everyday life throughout the world and some countries now acknowledge this reality and have created a legal framework of rights and obligations that formalise the relationships of LGBT families. Marriage is now possible to same-sex couples in the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, and in the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Other forms of recognition exist in many other states. As one Canadian Supreme Court judge has put it:

“Family means different things to different people, and the failure to adopt the traditional family form of marriage may stem from a multiplicity of reasons – all of them equally valid and all of them worthy of concern, respect, consideration and protection under the law.”

Nevertheless, LGBT families have discovered to their cost that the traditional family ideal is still a potent conservative force to be reckoned with. Unable to match up to the ‘traditional’ family ideal, many LGBT families find that they still face discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion. The practical implications of having our most important and intimate loving relationships kept outside of a framework of legal protection and regulation can be devastating.

These include, among others:

• lack of recognition of same-sex couples for immigration purposes, regardless of how long-term or well established the relationship is;
• lack of free movement for third country national LGBT families’ members which is guaranteed in only very limited terms;
• certain administrative privileges being denied to LGBT families’ members;
• not being recognised as their partner’s or child’s ‘next of kin’;
• the inability of children to establish a legally-recognised relationship with a non-biological parent, regardless of the depth of relationship between them;
• difficulty for non-biological parents in performing straightforward everyday actions, such as travelling abroad with their children;
• being denied the protection of property laws that usually recognise that the family home merits special protection;
• being denied the chance to adopt a child purely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity;
• lack of access to employment laws that recognise that families have certain special needs such as parental leave or emergency family leave;
• lack of access to pension schemes which offer particular benefits to family members but do not recognise LGBT families’ relationships;
• no recognition with regards to intestacy rules from which family members automatically benefit if a person dies without making a will;
• lack of recognition of LGBT families with regards to social security benefits;
• lack of a legal framework that determines financial support and how property is divided in the event of a relationship breakdown;

As Andrew Sullivan has written, the idea of a single natural family form with deep historical roots is extremely fragile:

“The Institution of civil marriage, like most institutions, has undergone vast changes over the last two millennia. If marriage were the same today as it has been for 2,000 years, it would be possible to marry a twelve-year-old you had never met, to own a wife as property and dispose of her at will, or to imprison a person who married someone of a different race.”

As members of Malta’s legislative assembly, MP’s have both the power and the responsibility to address this injustice. This appeal calls on MP’s to treat all Maltese citizens equally and to have the courage to legislate in this regard.

Freedom and Equality (La Libertad y La Igualdad)

by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,
Prime Minister of Spain
June 30 2005, Madrid

Today, my government definitively submits for Senate approval the Bill, modifying Civil Law, which gives the right to form a marriage contract, a fulfilment of an electoral campaign promise.

We recognize today in Spain the rights of same-sex couples to enter in a marriage contract. Before Spain, they allowed this in Belgium, Holland, and, as of two days ago, Canada. We have not been the first, but I assure you that we will not be the last. After us, there will be many more countries motivated, honourable members, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality.

It is just a small change to the legal text, adding but a paragraph, in which we establish that marriage will have the same requisites, and the same rights, when the couple is either of different sexes, or the same sex. It is a small change in the letter of the law that creates an immense change in the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens.

We are not legislating, honourable members, for a far away and unknown people. We are extending the opportunity for happiness to our neighbours, co-workers, friends, and our families: at the same time, we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

In the poem “The family” our poet Luis Cernuda lamented:

“How does man live in denial, and how in vain
By giving rules that prohibit and condemn.”

Today, Spanish society responds to a group of people that for years have been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, and whose identity and freedom has been denied. Today, Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their freedom.

It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone’s triumph. It is also a triumph of those who oppose this law, even as they attempt to ignore it, because it is the triumph of freedom. This victory makes all of us a better society.

Honourable members, there is no damage to marriage or to the family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. Rather, these citizens now have the ability to organize their lives according to marital and familial norms and demands. There is no threat to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law recognizes and values marriage.

Aware that some people and institutions profoundly disagree with this legal change, I wish to say that like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will not generate bad results; that its only consequence will be to avoid senseless suffering of human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of its citizens is a better society.

In any case, I wish to express my deep respect to those people and institutions, and I also want to ask for the same respect for all of those who approve of this law. To the homosexuals that have personally tolerated the abuse and insults for many years, I ask that you add to the courage you have demonstrated in your struggle for civil rights, an example of generosity and joy with respect to all the beliefs.

With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of freedom and tolerance that was started by the democratic Transition. Our children view us with incredulity when we tell them that many year ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or we tell them that people had to stay married against their will, even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every obtained right and liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people of whom we must recognize and be proud.
Today, we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves, and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the humiliation and unhappiness. Today, for many, comes the day evoked by Kavafis a century ago:

“Later was said of the most perfect society
someone else, made like me,
certainly will come out and act freely.”

MaltaStar: Gay couples just as good to adopt children - research
29 September 2009

A new study has revealed that the notion that gay couples are not as fit as heterosexual ones to adopt children is simply an idea based on ignorance.

The sexual orientation of the parents does not have an impact on the emotional development of their children, according to a new study.

But researchers said that if parents were satisfied with the adoption process, had a stable income and functioned well as a family the risk of emotional problems in children were reduced.

No matter what the sexual orientation is, if the family doesn't function well in a social environmnent, problems tend to trickle down to the children.

"We found that sexual orientation of the adoptive parents was not a significant predictor of emotional problems," Paige Averett, an assistant professor of social work at East Carolina University, said in a statement.

"We did find, however, that age and pre-adoptive sexual abuse were," she added.

Averett, Blace Nalavany, also of East Carolina University, and Scott Ryan, dean of the University of Texas School of Social Work, questioned nearly 1,400 couples in the United States, including 155 gay and lesbian parents.

They used information from Florida's public child welfare system and data from gay and lesbian couples throughout the U.S. for the study.

Each couple was questioned about themselves and their children, the family composition and dynamics, and the history of the child before the adoption.

The researchers said the findings, which are reported in the journal Adoption Quarterly, are important because it compared gay and lesbian and heterosexual couples.

"There are implications for social work educators, adoption professionals, and policy makers in this and other recent studies," said Averett.

"We must pay attention to the data indicating that gay and lesbian parents are as fit as heterosexual parents to adopt," Averett added, "because at least 130,000 children are depending on us to act as informed advocates on their behalf."

The American Civil Liberties Union has said that laws and adoption agency policies have created obstacles for gay and lesbian couple who want to adopt children.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on MaltaStar's website.]

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Times: Gay rights activists ask MPs to discuss same-sex marriages
Tuesday, 29th September 2009

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi receiving a pamphlet from the Malta Gay Rights Movement outside Parliament in Valletta, yesterday. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement believes that the lack of legal recognition for same-sex couples in Malta is discriminatory and denies them full citizenship.

MGRM activists yesterday greeted parliamentarians returning to the House after the summer recess with an appeal to discuss same-sex marriage, also handing out copies of a speech by left-wing Spanish Prime Minister Josè Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

"Matrimony shall have the same requirements and effects regardless of whether the persons involved are of the same or different sex," Mr Zapatero said in his speech. That is now law and same-sex couples can get married in Spain.

MPs, including the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat, received the assembled MGRM representatives warmly.

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said of the gesture: "We are taking this action to highlight Spain's lead. We are hoping to raise the issue of same-sex marriage so that more intensive discussion can take place. Also, we are doing this to lay emphasis on the build-up leading to an international conference on the issue".

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Conference will be held in Malta in November. The conference is expected to attract about 250 LGBT activists from the states affiliated to the Council of Europe.
Asked whether the MGRM sees same-sex marriage as a realistic prospect any time soon, Ms Calleja said: "Currently, the two major political parties are proposing cohabitation rights but this is bare minimum legal recognition and is very limited in the rights it would give to LGBT couples. More is required and this is what we are pushing for".

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

L-Orizzont: Il-gays jitolbu għad-dritt taż-żwieġ

Grupp ta’ gays il-bieraħ inġabru quddiem il-bini tal-Parlament fejn talbu lill-membri parlamentari biex idaħħlu fil-pajjiż id-dritt taż-żwieġ għall-koppji gays.

Membri fil-Malta Gay Rights Movement, il-grupp qassam stqarrija fejn fih ġibed l-attenzjoni tal-membri parlamentari li ż-żwieġ bejn koppji tal-istess sess huwa rikonoxxut fl-Olanda, il-Belġju, il-Kanada, Spanja, l-Afrika t’Isfel, in-Norveġja, l-Isvezja u l-istati Amerikani ta’ Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Maine u New Hampshire.

Mal-istqarrija kien hemm mehmuża dikjarazzjoni li l-Prim Ministru Spanjol Josè Zapatero qara fit-30 ta’ Ġunju 2005 meta l-Gvern tiegħu daħħal fil-pajjiż id-dritt tal-gays li jiż-żewġu.

Il-gays lokali talbu lill-membri parlamentari taż-żewġ naħat biex ikollhom il-kuraġġ idaħħlu d-dritt taż-żwieġ bejn il-gays fil-liġi lokali u b’hekk iċ-ċittadini lokali jkunu trattati b’mod ugwali.

MaltaStar: “Towards a progressive agenda”, as think tank IDEAT launch challenge to conservatism

Think tank IDEAT was launched amid expectations it will put forward a progressive agenda to influence politics in Malta.

Speaking at the launching of the think tank, Aaron Farrugia, IDEAT’s chairperson, emphasised that this organization while working with the Labour Party it will put forward its own agenda and ideas which might be different or contradict the PL’s executives’ policies.

Yet, Mr Farrugia insisted that it is high time that all those who have at heart an open-minded society to come together and out forward all ideas. “we need to challenge conservatism by putting forward a progressive agenda.”

During the opening speech he laid down the guiding principle of the think tank:

1. An inclusive society within a global age, which respects the needs of minorities.
2. Rights and obligations following the financial crisis in the capital system
3. Quality jobs for everyone
4. Education: “No one should be left behind. No talents should go to waste. We believe that in education lies Malta’s strength to remain competitive in the European Union.”
5. Child care: “If we need to reach certain targets, then we must invest in sustainable child care systems.”
6. Equality: “We have to strive for more equality between men and women.”
7.Social Dialogue: “We believe that the workers and employees should have the best representative in today and to take a proactive role in today’s society”.
8. Sustainable Development: “We believe that sustainable development has to be on the forefront on the country’s agenda to protect the vulnerable. We should not be passive.”
9. Civil Rights: “We need to legislate for everyone. The majority should not impose its will on the minority.”
10. Social Europe: “We believe in a social and competitive Europe, which unties us.”

Labour Leader Joseph Muscat insisted that the think tank has “card blanche” on its policies and hoped it can influence not only the PL but also other parties. “I would not be surprised if other parties would take the ideas that will come forward from this think tank. The time of monopolies is over.”

“The idea that the workers vote labour and the middle-class vote Nationalist is over,” Muscat said, insisting that the electorate have matured and moved away from ‘tribal’ political affiliations. “The time when people voted just because their parents voted a particular political party is something of the past.”

“We need to move forward from the politics of the past and create a political movement that represent all sections of society, and its ideas should go beyond budget rhetoric but reach people’s hearts,” Muscat said.

“Change is not easy. Section of the establishment knows it and is afraid of it. We need to accept it and face it. Even though we might have the media against us, we still need to deliver our message, thus we need to return politics to the people.”

“We should also not be afraid to say that we stand for minorities and that the Labour Party will defend Gay rights.”

“We need to make it personal, we need to meet people, talk to them and listen to them,” Muscat concluded.

Ernst Stetter, Jessica Asato, Godfrey Grima, Evarist Bartolo and James Debono formed part of the panel of discussion.

After 25 years of conservatism in Malta

“Ideas have to be connected with the needs of the people. What we are guaranteed is the struggle and not the win,” Evarist Bartolo, Labour MP said.

He also emphasised that it is high time to challenge the conservative and confessional side of the nation while insisting that each idea that might come out from this think tank has to win the hearts of the people.

However, he also warned about “internal bickering”, which can hinder progressive thinking.

Godfrey Grima noted that the same principles of this think tank were the same principles, which guided Bartolo as a young politicians and himself before.

“Politics is very similar to journalist. It is based on credibility. Thus, this think tank has to forget theories and be practical,” Grima said.

He noted that while the country has economical improved, he questioned whether this society has become more open-minded.

“Did society change for the best? And are they any quality European leaders out there?” Grima added.

He also said that a perversion in the media exists and that the political parties should dismantle their media. “It is a matter of credibility, when the traditional media, switches against the PL just before General Election it loses credibility.”

“It is one thing to lie. It is another to be accepted that you are saying the truth,” Grima added.

However, Bartolo said that until a credible PBS is set up, it will be impossible for the PL to dismantle its media.

James Debono, Maltatoday journalist, noted that while “progressive issues” might be relative from one country to another one should not compromise on human rights, in particular to the subject of immigration and state welfare.

He also added that the State should not use the Welfare state as a way to punish people but rather to help the most vulnerable.

The two foreign guests agreed that with the change of the US president, progressive ideas would be able move forward.

However, they warned that even though the Left-movement have been given a good momentum, it is still lacking to get its arguments across to the people and unless this is done, very little change can ever happen.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on MaltaStar's website.]

Il-KullĦadd: Il-Moviment tal-Progressivi u l-Moderati biss jista’ jgib il-bidla ghall-ahjar - Joseph Muscat

27.9.9 mill-KULLHADD TEAM

[Parti mill-aritklu]
Pajjizna tilef hafna zmien u issa wasal iz-zmien ta’ qabza ‘l quddiem. “Wasal iz-zmien fejn pajjizna jrid jaghmel il-glieda kontra l-medjokrità politika, ambjentali, estetika u ekonomika”, tenna Joseph Muscat. Il-Mexxej Laburista semma kif il-Moviment tal-Progressivi u l-Moderati huwa kontra d-diskriminazzjoni tal-omosesswali. “Ahna favur d-drittijiet tal-omoseswali biex titnehha d-diskriminazzjoni. Bl-istess mod dwar id-divorzju, l-ghazla ser tkun cara. Il-Moviment Progressiv huwa favur l-introduzzjoni tad-divorjzu”, sahaq Joseph Muscat.

It-Torċa: 47 rakkomandazzjoni lil Malta mill-Ġnus Magħquda

Quddiem il-Kunsill tad-Drittijiet tal-Bniedem, tal-Ġnus Magħquda, din il-ġimgħa Malta sostniet li alissa għadha mhijiex f’pożizzjoni li tiffirma l-Konvenzjoni għall-Ħarsien tad-Drittijiet tal-Ħaddiema Immigranti. Dan fid-dawl tal-problemi li pajjiżna qed isib minħabba l-influss ta’ immig-ranti llegali f’pajjiżna.

Malta kienet qiegħda twie-ġeb għal 47 rakkomandazzjoni li saru minn dan il-kunsill, ib-bażati fuq dak li jissejjaħ bħala ‘Universal Periodic Review’, li fih ikun studjat l-istat tal-ħar-sien tad-drittijiet tal-bniedem fil-pajjiżi membri tal-Ġnus Magħquda. Il-parti l-kbira tar-rakkomandazzjonijiet għal Malta għandhom rabta mal-immigrazzjoni u mad-drittijiet tal-persuni omosesswali u trangender.

Filwaqt li kien hemm kum-menti pożittivi dwar Malta għall-impenn tagħha fil-ħar-sien tal-konvenzjonijiet mar-buta mad-drittijiet tal-bnie-dem, il-kritika kienet immirata l-aktar għall-mod li bih Malta tilqa’ lill-immigranti llegali. Fost oħrajn kien hemm kritika għall-politika ta’ detenzjoni u ċ-ċentri li fihom jinżammu l-immigranti f’pajjiżna. Fil-fatt, kritika ewlenija kienet li ċ-ċentri ta’ detenzjoni mhumiex miżmuma tajjeb u l-immigranti qiegħdin jgħixu “f’kundiz-zjonijiet li ma jagħmlulhomx tajjeb għal saħħithom.”

Kritika li saret mill-Kum-missjoni Internazzjonali tal-Ġuristi kienet dwar id-deten-zjoni awtomatika għall-im-migranti llegali u ż-żmien li jkollhom jibqgħu fid-deten-zjoni kien deskritt bħala wie-ħed twil wisq u mhux propor-zjonali. L-Istati Uniti saħqet li Malta għandha tħarrax il-pieni u żżid l-isforzi kontra t-traffi-kar tal-bnedmin.

Min-naħa tagħha, Malta fissret kif irranġat il-liġi biex iddekriminalizzat l-immigraz-zjoni illegali u għalhekk id-detenzjoni fiċ-ċentri hija biss waħda amministrattiva, ta’ 18-il xahar għall-immigranti lle-gali u ta’ sena għal dawk li jku-nu jridu jsiru refuġjati. Fissret ukoll kif iċ-ċentri huma mmex-xija minn persuni ċivili u mhux militari u l-immigranti għandhom l-assistenza ħielsa tal-organizzazzjonijiet mhux governattivi. Malta spjegat kif minkejja li kontinwament qed isir xogħol ta’ manutenzjoni, madankollu l-vandaliżmu u l-irvellijiet mill-immigranti nfus-hom qiegħdin iwasslu għad-deterjorazzjoni ta’ dawn iċ-ċentri.

Omosesswalità u transgender

Matul is-sessjoni tat-23 ta’ Settembru, Malta kienet ukoll imħeġġa biex tieħu ħsieb il-ħarsien tad-drittijiet ta’ persuni omosesswali u transgender. Madankollu, Malta qalet li r-relazzjoni bejn persuni tal-istess sess tibqa’ kwistjoni ta’ kompetenza nazzjonali.

L-Assoċjazzjoni Internaz-zjonali tal-Lesbjani u Gay, insistiet li Malta għandha tim-penja ruħha aktar biex tiġġie-led id-diskriminazzjoni fuq bażi ta’ orjentazzjoni sesswali u ġeneru.

Saħqet li b’mod speċjali Malta għandha tinkludi l-orjentazzjoni sesswali u l-ġeneru fil-politika tagħha dwar saħħa sesswali. Kien suġ-ġerit ukoll li l-gvern jaħdem aktar mill-qrib mal-organiz-zazzjonijiet mhux governattivi li jirrappreżentaw lill-omo-sesswali u transgender b’mod speċjali biex jissorveljaw li ma jkunx hemm ksur tad-drittijiet ta’ dawn il-persuni.

KullĦadd: Id-diversità u d-diskriminazzjoni

19.9.9 minn Randolph DeBattista

lepre_Xi darba jew ohra kulhadd iltaqa’ ma’ xi reklam bil-kliem “ilkoll differenti, lkoll indaqs”, jew qara xi billboard biex ma niddiskriminawx. Filwaqt li madwar l-Ewropa, l-aktar tip ta’ diskriminazzjoni komuni huwa dak marbut ma’ l-origini etnika, f’pajjizna d-diskriminazzjoni abbazi ta’ sess tiddomina x-xena.

L-esperta fil-qasam tad-diversita’, l-avukat Dr Roberta Lepre tghid lil Randolph De Battista li l-Maltin mhumiex koerenti fl-attitudni taghhom lejn id-diversità ghax filwaqt li nirrikonoxxu drittijiet ghal certi gruppi, m’ahniex tolleranti lejn gruppi ohrajn ta’ persuni. Matul l-intervista, titkellem ukoll dwar il-kwistjoni ta’ l-immigranti rregolari u l-impjiegi, filwaqt li tishaq favur il-bzonn li koppji omosesswali jinghataw drittijiet civili bhal haddiehor.

“Id-diversità hija d-differenzi kollha bejn il-persuni, jigifieri mhux dawk id-differenzi msemmijin fil-ligi biss. Hemm hafna iktar forom ta’ differenzi bejn persuna u ohra li mhux necessarjament huma legislati u mhux necessarjament jaghtu lok ghal diskriminazzjoni.

“Però barra d-differenzi, hemm ukoll similaritajiet bejn il-persuni. Zewg persuni jistghu ikunu differenti hafna f’certi aspetti izda mbaghad isibu certi affarijiet li jghaqqduhom flimkien. Dak huwa l-kuncett tad-diversità fejn thares lejn id-differenzi bhala opportunità u mhux bhala problema, fl-istess hin li taghraf li hemm certi affarijiet li huma simili.”
Staqsejtha kif dan il-kliem sabih jista’ fil-verità jimmaterjalizza u allura x’inhuma l-beneficcji li niehdu mid-diversità.

“Hemm hafna beneficcji u dan anke johrog minn studji li saru fuq livell Ewropew. Bazikament meta qed titkellem fuq id-diversità qed tifrex anke l-aspett ta’ innovazzjoni ghax persuni differenti se jgibulek anke ideat differenti fuq il-post tax-xoghol. Anke f’dak li ghandu x’jaqsam ma’ relazzjoni mal-klijenti. Jekk niehdu haddiem ta’ razza partikolari, awtomatikament ser jigbed lejh klijentela ta’ dik ir-razza. Ghalhekk iktar ma jkollok firxa wiesgha ta’ aspetti differenti fuq il-post tax-xoghol, dejjem qed izzid l-opportunità li timxi ‘l quddiem.”

Kulhadd ippregudikat

La semmiet ir-razza ma stajtx ma nsaqsihiex dwar l-isfidi marbuta ma’ l-immigrazzjoni irregolari. Hawnhekk tghid li rridu nibdew billi nammettu li kulhadd ikollu l-pregudizzji tieghu.
“Jiena nahseb li ghalkemm forsi ftit nies jiehdu pjacir jammettu, lkoll ghandna l-pregudizzji taghna. Però biex teghleb id-diskriminazzjoni l-ewwel nett trid taghraf li inti ghandek dak il-pregudizzju.
“Imbaghad la darba tkun gharaft, ghandek tieqaf u tistaqsi ghalfejn jiena qieghed nippregudika lill-persuna? U minn hemm tibda tipprova tara l-persuna fuq il-bazi tal-mertu taghha aktar milli mill-pregudizzju li jkun gie mill-familja, mill-kultura jew anke mill-midja. Kwazi impossibbli li tghix f’socjetà minghajr pregudizzju imma importanti li wiehed jieqaf u jirrealizza li dan jezisti.”
Dwar l-impjiegi b’pagi mzeri li jinghataw l-immigranti hija emfasizzat li dawn ghandhom jigu regolati filwaqt li sahqet li hafna drabi dawn ikunu qeghdin jimlew bzonn tal-Maltin.

“Jiena naghraf li l-isfruttament jezisti. Però mhux necessarjament kull min ikun qieghed jistenna l-Marsa biex jahdem, se jahdem b’mod illegali jew se jigi sfruttat. Jien nemmen fis-suq hieles u allura nhoss li la darba dawn l-affarijiet qeghdin isiru, hemm talba u hemm il-provvista tas-servizzi mitluba fis-suq.”
“Issa hemm min jghid li dak ix-xoghol jistghu jaghmluh il-Maltin. Però fil-verità bil-hlas li jinghata, anke bir-rata legali, hafna Maltin ma jixtiequx jaghmlu dak it-tip ta’ xoghol allura fil-verità dawn il-persuni qeghdin jimlew bzonn li ghandna ahna bhala Maltin, ta’ xoghol li jrid isir u xi hadd irid jaghmlu. Huwa important ghalhekk li kollox jigi regolat.”

“Hemm imbaghad l-aspett l-iehor ukoll. La darba l-persuna qieghda hawn, issa ftit hemm x’wiehed jaghmel, jaqbel jew ma jaqbilx. Allura issa li qeghdin hawn x’jaqblilna naghmlu? Nintegrawhom biex huma jkunu jistghu itejbu lilhom infushom u mbaghad fl-ahhar jaghtu kontribut lis-socjetà jew inkomplu nifrustrawhom biex xi darba dawn jirvellaw kontrina? Ghax wara kollox din hija n-natura umana, ghalxejn toqghod tmur kontriha.”
Rigward l-istudju li 64% tal-Afrikani f’pajjizna jsostnu li gew diskriminati hija ssostni li wiehed irid izomm f’mohhu li jista’ jaghti l-kaz li dawn il-persuni huma iktar mgharrfin bid-drittijiet taghhom, filwaqt li persuni u gruppi ohrajn, m’ghandhomx l-istess servizzi.

Óaddiem bhala rizorsa

Tul id-diskursata, ssemmi kemm-il darba l-importanza li fuq il-post tax-xoghol, min ihaddem jinvesti fil-haddiema tieghu u biex jeghleb l-isfidi tad-diversità.

“Illum anke sempliciment kompjuter. Ma tixtrihx u jibqa’ jahdem l-istess ghal dejjem, imma trid tiehu hsiebu u tinvesti fih. Allura nhoss li ghandna tendenza li l-kompjuter inkunu lesti ninvestu fih imma meta nigu ghall-haddiema noqghodu pass lura.

“Fuq il-post tax-xoghol il-persuni huma rizorsa wkoll. Jekk min ihaddem jinvesti f’din ir-rizorsa u jaghtiha li ghandha bzonn, se jkun qieghed jiehu xi haga lura ghax il-haddiema se jhossuhom li l-post tax-xoghol jaghtihom valur u allura jkunu lesti jipproducu iktar.”

Izda b’mod konkret x’jista’ jaghmel min ihaddem? “Min ihaddem jista’ jew sempliciment jara x’titlob il-ligi u jieqaf hemmhekk. Però organizzazzjoni tista’ wkoll tara x’tip ta’ nies ghandha u tara kif tista’ tinvesti fihom individwalment. Imbaghad tkun tista’ tohloq il-mizuri li jkunu mehtiega skont il-haddiema u skont il-post tax-xoghol. Forsi tista’ tinstema xi ftit kumplikata, izda fil-verità mhix.”

Hawnhekk xtaqtha telabora iktar u semmietli x-xoghol li taghmel il-kumpanija li tmexxi hi, Weave Consulting. “L-ghan taghna huwa li nassistu l-kumpaniji fl-isfidi li ghandhom x’jaqsmu mad-diversità. L-ambitu legali digà jezisti u l-kuncetti qeghdin dejjem iktar nisimghu bihom, allura ahna rridu nahdmu ma’ kumpaniji, individwi, NGOs jew dipartimenti biex nghinuhom jaghrfu fejn jistghu forsi jtejbu s-sitwazzjoni taghhom fil-qasam tad-diversità u mbaghad noholqu mizuri li permezz taghhom inkunu nistghu niksbu iktar ugwaljanza kemm fuq il-post tax-xoghol u kemm fis-socjetà b’mod wiesgha.

“Bejn il-5 u d-9 t’Ottubru ser ikollna kors dwar id-diversità u nheggeg lil kull min jista’ sabiex jattendi. Mhux biss persuni li jimpjegaw, imma anke persuni li jmexxu l-iskejjel, min jahdem fis-settur pubbliku u jista’ jinfluwenza certi inizjattivi u anke persuni mill-midja ghaliex il-midja tilghab rwol importanti hafna f’dan is-suggett delikat.”

Drittijiet civili

Apparti d-diskriminazzjoni fuq bazi tar-razza ssemmi tipi ohrajn li wkoll huma regolati bil-ligi bhall-età, il-gendru, t-twemmin, id-dizabilità, li hija l-aktar bazi li ilha tezisti fil-kuncett legali taghna u l-orjentazzjoni sesswali. Dwar din ta’ l-ahhar tistqarr li sfortunatament ghadha qieghda tintlaqa’ b’daqsxejn ta’ rezistenza. Hawnhekk titkellem b’mod car dwar drittijiet civili ghal koppji omosesswali.

“Jiena nhoss li la darba persuni eterosesswali permezz taz-zwieg jinghataw certi drittijiet bhas-successjoni, housing u drittijiet marbuta mat-taxxa, assolutament ma nsibx problema li l-istess drittijiet jinghataw lil persuni omosesswali. Dawn billi jinghataw l-istess drittijiet lilhom m’huma ser jiehdu xejn minn tieghi. Nahseb li ghandna nharsu lejn din l-issue ta’ civil partnerships b’dan il-mod.

Dwar ir-religjon u d-diskussjoni fuq livell Ewropew dwar is-simboli marbuta mat-twemmin, hija tghid li filwaqt li ghandna nharsu lejn it-twemmin li jipprevali fil-pajjiz partikolari, wiehed ghandu jhalli l-wisa’ ghal twemmin differenti. “Jiena nahseb li persuna la darba giet f’Malta u allura f’pajjiz fejn jipprevali twemmin partikolari, ghandha taccetta dak it-twemmin, li huwa wkoll parti mill-kultura. Però wasal iz-zmien li nibdew naghmlu spazju wkoll ghal twemmin iehor. Illum anke fost il-Maltin stess hawn persuni li mhux necessarjament ihaddnu t-twemmin Kattoliku. Nemmen li iva rridu nirrispettaw it-twemmin tallum, izda nhallu wkoll spazju ghal twemmin iehor.

“Li nissuggerixxi kieku jiena li n-nies minflok ma jfittxu d-differenzi bejn it-twemmin, naghrfu dawk li huma l-valuri li f’hafna mir-religjonijiet huma l-istess.”

Kultura diskriminatorja

Skont stastistika mill-Eurobarometer, l-aktar diskriminazzjoni komuni fl-Ewropa hija dik mill-origini etnika. Izda mill-esperjenza taghha, Dr Lepre tghid li f’Malta l-istampa hija totalment differenti, bid-diskriminazzjoni abbazi tal-gendru tkun fuq quddiem.

“F’Malta jien inhoss li l-ikbar forma ta’ diskriminazzjoni hija abbazi ta’ sess ghaliex ghandek firxa wiesgha hafna tal-popolazzjoni. Meta nitkellmu fuq drittijiet ta’ persuni b’dizabilità qeghdin nitkellmu fuq minoranza. Fil-bazi ta’ sess mhix minorità li qeghda tigi diskriminata.

“Però l-bicca l-kbira tal-persuni li qeghdin jigu diskriminati minhabba s-sess ma jaghrfux li huma qeghdin jigu diskriminati. Anzi pjuttost hafna drabi titqies bhala xi haga ta’ kultura u niehduha ovvja li n-nisa jigu trattati b’mod differenti.

“Meta qed nitkellmu fuq il-bazi tal-gendru, din tinkorpora wkoll il-maternità u r-responsabbiltajiet tal-familja. Jigifieri meta nitkellmu fuq diskriminazzjoni abbazi ta’ sess, hafna nies jahsbu fin-nisa imma anke l-irgiel jistghu jaqghu taht il-protezzjoni tal-ligi. Il-ligi ma taghtix beneficcji lin-nisa imma trid li kemm nisa u anke rgiel jinghataw l-opportunità li jipprogressaw fuq il-post tax-xoghol kemm jekk huma mizzewgin u anke jekk ghandhom it-tfal u l-familja.”

Izda x’qieghed izommna lura mir-rizultati? “Jiena jiddispjacini nghid li hafna drabi n-nisa huma l-ghedewwa taghhom infushom. Nara li hafna drabi huma stess jaraw il-possibilitajiet taghhom b’mod limitat. Ma rridx niggeneralizza imma rridu b’xi mod nispjegaw ghalfejn ghandna dawn ir-rati baxxi. Jien inhoss li n-nisa stess joqoghdu lura milli jaghmlu dak il-pass. Joqoghdu lura milli jergghu jidhlu fid-dinja tax-xoghol ghaliex m’hemmx min jiehu hsieb lit-tfal. Huwa veru li t-tfal huma important imma jiena nemmen li dejjem hemm soluzzjoni.

“Jiddependi wkoll izda, kemm ahna norganizzaw ruhna kemm fil-postijiet tax-xoghol u anke fl-ambitu tal-politika. Óafna drabi l-politici jiltaqghu filghaxija, meta f’dak il-hin persuna li ghandha familja ghandha l-obbligi taghha x’taqdi mal-familja. Jigifieri nahseb li ghandna nahsbu ftit kif ghandna nirriorganizzaw ruhna bhala pajjiz.”

Staqsejtha kemm tara li huma bzonnjuzi c-childcare centres, izda tghid li ghandna nharsu iktar lil hinn.
“Childcare centres huma bzonnjuzi hafna, imma l-ETC kienet ghamlet ricerka u minnha hareg li l-iktar haga li n-nisa xtaqu biex ikunu jistghu imorru lura ghax-xoghol hija l-flessibilità aktar milli dawn ic-centri.
“Ezempju ta’ din il-flessibilità huwa li t-tmien sieghat xoghol mhux necessarjament jibdew mid-disgha sal-hamsa, biex jippermettu lill-mara tmur ghat-tfal l-iskola. Kuncetti ohrajn li dehlin bil-mod f’pajjizna huma t-teleworking jew job sharing li kollha jippermettu li persuna xorta taghmel ix-xoghol taghha minghajr ma tirrikjedi li tkun b’mod rigidu fuq il-post tax-xoghol f’dawk is-sieghat.”

Bhala eks membru tal-Kummissjoni dwar il-Vjolenza Domestika staqsejtha dwar din il-problema. Filwaqt li tirrikonoxxi li llum hawn aktar gharfien, tishaq li ghandna nrawwmu lit-tfal taghna f’ambjent ta’ ugwaljanza. “Il-kazijiet ta’ vjolenza domestika mhux qeghdin jizdiedu imma qeghdin johorgu izjed fil-berah anke minhabba li zdiedet l-informazzjoni dwar is-suggett. Sfortunatament il-vjolenza domestika hija rizultat tal-izbilanc fil-poter bejn in-nisa u l-irgiel fis-socjetà. Kull min studja fuq il-vjolenza domestika jaf li din iddur madwar il-poter; li persuna tkun tista’ tasserixxi l-poter taghha fuq persuna ohra kemm b’mod fiziku, materjali u emozzjonali.”
“Irridu nghidu li qieghed isir hafna imma hemm bzonn li l-poplu stess jaghraf kemm hija serja u kerha din il-problema. Hemm bzonn li fil-familji stess nibdew inrawwmu valur ta’ ugwaljanza bejn is-subien u l-bniet. Per ezempju x-xoghol tad-dar mhux necessarjament jaghmluh il-bniet imma jinqasam ghax kulhadd huwa responsabbli u ghandu jikkontribwixxi. Ghalhekk irridu nibdew mill-familji, l-iskejjel u anke l-postijiet tax-xoghol.”

Ma stajtx ma niehux ir-reazzjoni taghha ghall-fatt li wara tliet snin ta’ kontroversja biex jintghazlu l-imhallfin ghall-Qorti Ewropea ta’ Strasburgu, issa l-gvern ceda u mill-inqas wahda mill-applikanti trid tkun mara. “Jiena din is-sitwazzjoni nqabbilha mal-kwistjoni tal-kwota. Sfortunatament kultant ikollok tmur ghal dawn il-mizuri biex effettivament ikun hemm bilanc ta’ opportunitajiet. Ahna qeghdin nitkellmu biss fuq opportunità f’dan l-istadju. Jigifieri t-talba kienet li jkun hemm applikanti li jkunu taz-zewg sessi, mhux necessarjament ser tintghazel mara. Però ta’ l-inqas qeghdin nifirxu l-possibilità u l-opportunitajiet liz-zewg sessi.

“Finalment jien naqbel ma’ dawn it-tip ta’ mizuri u nkun nixtieq naraha ssehh fuq bazi lokali, jigifieri meta nappuntaw bordijiet. Hemm policies li jrid ikun hemm certu bilanc fuq bordijiet izda kemm dawn imbaghad jigu nfurzati u kif jirrizultaw fil-prattika dik hija storja ohra.”

M’ahniex poplu koerenti

Staqsejtha jekk mill-esperjenza taghha tahsibx li ahna poplu li nirrikonoxxu d-drittijiet ta’ min hu differenti minna, izda hi tghid li m’ahniex koerenti. “Jiena nahseb li m’ahniex koerenti bhala socjetà. Nahseb li fuq certi aspetti, bhad-dizabilità nkunu lesti li nimxu dak il-pass. Però fuq aspetti ohrajn qisna noqghodu lura. U hawn nerga’ nsemmi l-kuncett ta’ pregudizzju. Din tigi minn ideat li ahna ghandna li jkunu gew mill-midja, mill-kultura, minhabba t-trobbija, allura ngharfu wkoll li dan huwa process ta’ taghlim, ghalkemm issa nahseb li wasal iz-zmien li nimmaturaw bhala poplu.

“Inhoss li bhala pajjiz, u anke mill-lat politiku, la darba qeghdin naghtu certi drittijiet lil gruppi ta’ nies, ma tistax l-istess drittijiet ma testendihomx ghal gruppi ohrajn. Mil-lat individwali mbaghad il-ligijiet Ewropej ovvjament isibu ruhhom fil-ligijiet ta’ Malta u l-ligijiet ta’ Malta mbaghad jimponu obbligi u drittijiet kemm fuq min ihaddem jew jipprovdi servizz u kif ukoll fuq il-haddiema nfushom. L-obbligu generali jkun li ma jiddiskriminawx u li ma jippermettux li ssir diskriminazzjoni.”

Fl-ahharnett issemmi wkoll l-istatistika tal-Eurobarometer li turi li 53% tal-Ewropej ma jafux x’inhuma d-drittijiet taghhom f’kaz li jigu diskriminati u hawnhekk terga’ tappella ghall-infurzar tal-ligijiet. “Din l-istatistika nemminha mill-esperjenza. Nerga’ nghid li sar hafna mill-entitajiet ta’ l-istat. Ovvjament jista’ jsir iktar, però jiddependi hafna mir-rizorsi u minn kemm se nibdew ninfurzaw il-ligijiet. M’ghandniex xi nghidu jekk kemm-il darba l-ligijiet se jigu nfurzati fuq il-post tax-xoghol, il-haddiema b’mod indirett se jsiru jafu d-drittijiet taghhom x’inhuma.”

LGBT News: Bill Clinton says Yes to Gay Marriage


Anderson Cooper: You said you recently changed your mind on same-sex marriage. I’m wondering what you mean by that. Do you now believe that gay people should have full rights to civil marriage nationwide?

Bill Clinton: I do. I think that, well let me get back to the last point, the last word. I believe historically, for two hundred and something years, marriage has been a question left to the states and the religious institutions. I still think that’s where it belongs. That is, I was against the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide, and I still think that the American people should be able to play this side in debates. But me, Bill Clinton personally, I changed my position. I am no longer opposed to that. I think if people want to make commitments that last a lifetime, they ought to be able to do it. I have long favored the right of gay couples to adopt children.

AC: What made you change your mind? Was there one thing?

Clinton: I think, what made me change my mind, I looked up and said look at all of this stuff you’re for. I’ve always believed that—I’ve never supported all the moves of a few years ago to ban gay couples from adoption. Because they’re all these kids out there looking for a home. And the standard on all adoption cases is, what is the best interest of the child? And there are plenty of cases where the best interest of the child is to let the gay couple take them and give them a loving home. So I said, you know, I realized that I was over 60 years old, I grew up at a different time, and I was hung up about the word. I had all these gay friends, I had all these gay couple friends, and I was hung up about it. And I decided I was wrong.

That our society has an interest in coherence and strength and commitment and mutually reinforcing loyalties, then if gay couples want to call their union marriage and a state agrees, and several have now, or a religious body will sanction it, and I don’t think a state should be able to stop a religious body from saying it, I don’t think the rest of us should get in the way of it. I think it’s a good thing not a bad thing. And I just realized that, I was, probably for, maybe just because of my age and the way I’ve grown up, I was wrong about that. I just had too many gay friends. I saw their relationships. I just decided I couldn’t, I had an untenable position.

Monday, 28 September 2009


Malta’s history dragged from the closet
  • Malta’s history dragged from the closet.

It’s generally with a degree of controversy that historical figures, especially those from the Catholic Church, are outed as gay.
A speculative new book on the history of queer Malta, Queer Mediterranean Memories, has boldly done just that, in what is the first comprehensive history of the Maltese gay and lesbian experience.
Melbourne author and lawyer Joseph Chetcuti methodically charts and ponders the secret sexuality of historical figures as far back as the apostle St Paul, who spent time in Malta, to modern-day patron saint George Preca and parliamentarian Mable Strickland.
“Malta’s gay and lesbian [people] are ‘a people without a written history’. We have yet to trace our footprints, the events and people of significance to us. Our history, as told by our oppressors, is one of deceit, seeking to suppress any proof of same-sex love,” Chetcuti writes.
Chetcuti told Southern Star he has not set out to be provocative, but is merely trying to raise the profile of Maltese gay and lesbian history.
“In the book, what I’m really trying to do is appropriate these people, or at least to discuss the issue of their sexuality, so they become ours, like Caravaggio became one of us,” Chetcuti said.
“It doesn’t follow that because Caravaggio was gay that we’re all artistic, but it does become important that it’s no longer invisible, and it’s a question of visibility.”
Chetcuti is a trailblazer in his home country, writing the first book on homosexuality in the Maltese language, The Pink Book, in 1997.
So controversial was the book, in 2007 Chetcuti was banned from giving a lecture on it by the Maltese Community Council of Victoria. There was similar uproar in Malta.
While Chetcuti is careful not to claim outright certitude on his subjects’ sexuality, he does implicate a number, including St Preca, on some contestable assumptions.
“Preca’s voice floored me. I fell onto the sofa in disbelief. With respect, it left little to the imagination. I immediately recognised him as one of our own.”
Chetcuti said the issue of Preca’s possible homosexuality is important as it makes a mockery of Vatican suggestions to reject gay men entering the priesthood.
“The issue with Preca is very important… the whole issue of sexual orientation… some gay men have sublimated their sexuality to do with the church.
“What is incredible is that sometimes gay men and lesbians have been the greatest contributors towards the church. That has gone unacknowledged.”
In the book’s foreword, Chetcuti quotes former US Episcopalian Bishop of Newark and now religious commentator John Shelby Spong discussing St Paul’s sexuality.
“The Roman Catholic Church never debates any issue publicly but you may be sure it’s being debated privately because the Roman Catholic tradition is compromised constantly by the fact that [it has] a significant number of gay clergy and periodically one of them becomes a front-page story in the newspapers,” Spong said.
“I think St Paul was a gay man. I think the data would indicate that [he was] is very substantial.”

Queer Mediterranean Memories is available from Hares and Hyenas.

Times: Catholics and the question of compromise
Monday, 28th September 2009 by Jacqueline Calleja, Balzan

One of the lesser known aspects of the Nazi regime in Germany is the role played by the judiciary. Sadly, the behaviour which many judges pursued during those tragic years was anything but exemplary. In their majority, judges, instead of defending the rule of law they had previously sworn to uphold before Hitler came to power, went about aiding the Nazi leader and his collaborators in their thirst for dictatorship and oppression.

How could it have happened that well-educated men who surely were aware what Hitler's ultimate intentions were (anyone reading Mein Kampf would have been left with no doubt about this) went along helping him to fulfil his ambitions.

The answer can only be that, apart from a minority formed by avid Nazi supporters, the majority succumbed to the temptation that has haunted man since time immemorial - compromising with one's principles if circumstances at the time so dictate.

Earlier still, during the French revolution, members of the Roman Catholic clergy were asked to take the revolutionary oath to the Republic or face severe punishment. Many priests, unfortunately, could not bring themselves to abide by their vows and to refuse to swear allegiance to a murderous regime which persecuted and killed countless innocent human beings.

These priests perhaps found comfort in the thought that since the revolution had brought to an end a despotic regime where the poor were heavily oppressed through unjust taxes and human rights were non-existent, they could overlook the more unpleasant aspects of the Republic. In other words, either through fear or through a sort of pragmatic and calculated acceptance of existing circumstances, they thought they could go along with the flow. Therefore, principles were set aside and comprise prevailed.

Such manner of thinking even today, in less dramatic circumstances, is often cited as a practical approach to difficult social and political situations. Thus, in order to reconcile conflicting ideals we often hear that it is not right to paint the world in black and white hues and that various shades of grey exist.

One must be practical, it is oft repeated, and try to find "common ground" where one could meet half-way others whose views are diametrically opposite. This manner of thinking is indeed correct because there are areas, such as the political arena, the work-place and within the family where it is right and just to reach out to others and find convergent views in order to resolve certain difficult matters and situations.

However, this should never be at the expense of principles especially those pertaining to morality (and not only sexual morality) and basic human rights.

In such areas there can be no common ground and no comprise is possible. Can one imagine for a moment finding "common ground" with the Ku Klux Klan or with a rabid anti-Semite party? Can politicians, while calling themselves Catholic, support policies (non-negotiable ones as Pope Benedict often repeats - divorce, abortion, euthanasia and same-sex unions) which go against fundamental principles that the Church they belong to embraces? Can Catholics support these politicians and serenely go to receive the Eucharist as if it mattered not all? This is inconsistency at its best and living a lie at its worst! Sometimes one hears of theologians, bishops and even cardinals who would declare that one could do so.

These are, however, simply stating their own views which, since they deviate from what the Church officially teaches, can therefore be safely ignored. (One must not forget that all the bishops during the Reformation in England went along with Henry VIII in his struggle with the Catholic Church).

Unfortunately, when one tries to be all things to all men, when one tries to gloss over diametrically opposite views, presenting them as if they were almost equally valid, one risks firstly losing one's credibility.

Then, it should never be forgotten that to sup with the devil one needs a very long spoon and trying to have one foot each on different stools risks crashing down between them. Fidelity to one's Christian ideals and to the teaching authority of the Church, even if one risks being unpopular and even maligned, is the consequence that Catholics will increasingly be called upon to face in our post-Christian society. However, this should not discourage us, since as, I believe, Mother Teresa used to say - "God does not want us to be successful but to be faithful".

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Times: Villa Francia legacy
Monday, 28th September 2009 by Joseph Gauci, W.N. Francia Estates, Valletta

Photo: William N. Francia

I wish to thank José Herrera for his article in memory of the Francias (September 17) [see below] which explained the truth and gave the correct story on the legacy of Villa Francia and the late William N. Francia, who left the villa to our nation.

There are many ways we can pay respect towards our fellow citizen, without having to be insolent.

The article is greatly appreciated.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]


Times: In memory of the Francias

Thursday, 17th September 2009 by José A. Herrera

I was happy to attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly-restored Villa Francia in Lija last Saturday. This distinguished edifice is certainly a masterpiece of baroque style and we Maltese should be proud to have it as part of our patrimony. Yet, I think a disservice has been made to the old Francia family and that is to say the least, as I shall explain.

In his speech at the opening, the Prime Minister took occasion to remind one and all that it was in this residence back in 1942 that one of Malta's foremost Prime Ministers died. In fact, the whole ceremony looked more like a memorial service in honour of this personality rather than anything else. In fact, Sir Ugo Mifsud's famous last speech in Parliament was also read out. Here, this eminent politician undoubtedly did his utmost, according to his moral convictions, to defend Malta's internees against deportation albeit, unfortunately, to no avail. This address was to be his swan song as he fell ill towards the end and passed away a few days later. To go return to Villa Francia, as you enter and proceed to the second floor you will find a room dedicated solely to the memory of this politician.

The Francia family, however, amazingly get no mention. This is unjust. I fully concur with the eulogies made in remembrance of one of Malta's earliest Prime Ministers who did strive, till his last breath, to uphold his principles and beliefs. On the other hand, it is outright scandalous how the true benefactors, in this instance the Francia family, were totally omitted from any type of oration whatsoever.

Once you view the villa room by room you will find no bust, no painting and not even a humble photo recalling William N. Francia, the last in the line of the Francia family who, back in 1986, decided to bequeath the said property.

Unfortunately, the Francia line today has gone cold and there are no bearers of that surname. Thankfully, the villa, which still bears their name, could be considered as some consolation.

Sir Ugo was married to one of the five children of Col. John Louis Francia, Lady Blanche Mifsud. Unfortunately, the Mifsuds died childless and the other siblings of the Francia family never married. One of them, however, John Baptist Francia, eventually did adopt a son, William N. Francia to whom the Maltese nation is indebted for having bestowed to it the property in question.

Worse still, in certain instances instead of gratitude there has been a dose of insolence. A case in point is an article written by Minister George Pullicino on September 14. The writer said: "Any alterations, which over the years were made to the villa without recognising history, have now been removed". He also refers to the building as being a dilapidated site (September 11).

Is that the sort of thank you one expects for opting to leave to the state an invaluable piece of property? The minister must surely be reminded that William N. Francia has been dead for more than 20 years and it was only during these last two years that the government took any initiative to restore and preserve the building. Everyone should know and Mr Pullicino especially, being an architect, that if you abandon a building for such a long period of time it will surely fall into a total state of disrepair and neglect. Thus, in his remarks, he should have pointed a finger at his own government and, himself forming part of it, he should not hesitate to utter mea culpa.

Regarding the alterations mentioned, it must be pointed out that the building was used as the ordinary residence of the Francia family and not as some cold museum or institute. Thus, the place has been fashioned in a way as to create the ambiance of a warm home.

I also read with interest another article written by one of our foremost journalists on March 9. The author felt exasperated to note that the extraordinary large carpets that were once present in the villa are nowhere to be seen as are also other particular artefacts. It must be stated that these were taken by representatives of the government to the storage facility Transpack Overseas Removals Ltd of Paola so many years ago and only God knows what has happened to them. Even here the responsibility falls on the state.

I also find criticism that the introduction of recent structures not falling within the baroque style as being uncalled for. Apart from the reasons already mentioned, it must be pointed out that, after all, it is this present Administration that has somewhat ignored the character, style and date of the building. The furniture brought there is either Victorian or early Edwardian. To my mind, the attitude adopted discourages others from following suit.

If, however, you happen to be visiting the premises of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Enterprise in St Christopher Street, Valletta, known as Il-Borża, stop for a while and take a glance at the paintings there embellishing the walls of the said edifice. There, among the numerous paintings, you'll find one of the late Col. Francia, Sir Ugo's father-in-law. This is the only portrait of this eminent personality on public display. It was bequeathed to the Chamber by the William N. Francia. You should then stop and pause for a while in acknowledgement of his family's gift to the Maltese.

Dr Herrera is a Labour member of Parliament.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]


See also:

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Illum: Aperitif ta’ kittieb ġdid

13.9.9 minn Franica Pulis

Ftit ilu Alex Vella Gera ħareġ l-ewwel ktieb tiegħu ‘Lil Hinn Mill-Jien’. FRANICA PULIS tintervistah biex tara x’hemm wara dan il-ktejjeb ta’ ftit folji li jittratta familja ‘normali’ bil-problemi kollha tagħha bi ftit umoriżmu

Alex Vella Gera, wieħed mill-grupp mużikali Hunters’ Palace, ftit tal-ġimgħat ilu ħareġ il-ktejjeb ‘Lil Hinn Mill-Jien’. Hu l-ewwel xogħol tiegħu bħala rumanz qasir. Minkejja li s’issa hu ppubblika poeżiji biss, fosthom fi ‘Ħbula Stirati’, Vella Gera ma jqisx lilu nnifsu bħala poeta.

‘Lil Hinn Mill-Jien’ l-awtur jiddeskrivih bħala “kummiedja għall-familja kollha” minkejja li dan il-ktieb mhux addattat għat-tfal. Iżda hu jsejjaħlu hekk għax ried joħloq “rabta subliminali mas-sensiliet tat-televixin. Ridt narahom bħala karattri ġo xi soap opera, biex nagħti kuntest għal melodrama li fih il-ktieb.

“Minbarra li hu dwar familja għaddejja minn kriżi iżda li hi kummiedja – tad-daħq f’sens ironiku ħafna – u l-karattri huma atturi f’din il-kummiedja. Hi wkoll daqsxejn ta’ botta kontra l-moralità prevalenti, li tgħid li ċerti affarijiet huma tajbin għal familja u oħrajn le.”

Fil-fatt jittratta familja ‘normali’ ta’ missier li jikkontrolla lil familtu qisu xi surġent maġġur ta’ reġiment, l-omm li trid tara kif se sservi ta’ pont bejn żewġha u wliedhom, il-bint il-kbira li xebbgħet mill-kontroll ta’ missierha u l-iben omosesswali ta’ 18-il sena li xeba’ mir-relazzjoni tiegħu mal-partner.

Mill-karattri forsi jispikkaw l-aktar il-missier bil-possessività u l-kontroll tiegħu u l-iben li għadu ma qalx lil familtu bis-sesswalità tiegħu. Permezz tagħha jirnexxielu joħloq kunflitt fil-familja. Minbarra li għal-letteratura Maltija nnifisha ma tantx jissemmew nies omosesswali anqas. X’kien il-ħsieb wara dan il-karattru? Kien jinteressak toħloq kunflitt fil-familja permezz tiegħu?

“Dawn il-mistoqsijiet ġagħluni naħseb. Jien ridt noħloq kunflitt f’din il-familja Maltija? Jekk iva, għalfejn? Hekk, għall-gost pervers tiegħi, qisni xi xitan ideffes denbu?

“L-omosesswalità ħarġet spontanja fl-istorja. Meta bdejt niktibha ma kellix idea ta’ min kien il-kondom, imma mbagħad, jien u nibda nikteb il-kapitlu tat-tifel, l-ewwel xena fejn ikun fuq il-blat Ta’ Xbiex, indunajt ħabta u sabta li l-partner tiegħu f’dak il-mument intimu, ma kinitx tfajla imma ġuvni.

“Tgħidlix kif irrealizzajt. Dawn l-affarijiet jiġuk, hekk, u mbagħad int bħala kittieb jew tiġġieled kontriha jew taċċetta dik it-triq li se tieħu l-istorja u taqbad issegwiha. Jien hekk għamilt. Imma l-fatt li hu omosesswali ftit li xejn jidħol fid-destin ta’ din il-familja. Seta’ mar ma’ tfajla, jew mara miżżewġa. Il-kriżi ta’ dil-familja kienet hemm minn qabel, tistenna splużjoni żgħira biex tiżbroffa għal kollox.

“Aktarx dak li ġagħlni nibda nikteb l-istorja. L-idea ta’ kriżi familjari. X’kienet il-kriżi ma kellix idea, imma malli rajt lill-missier jiżvojta ż-żibel mill-ewwel ħassejt li kien hemm xi ħaġa mhux f’postha. L-omosesswalità fl-istorja tidher b’mod normalissimu. In-narattur qatt ma jgħid lill-qarrej: ‘Ara, dan omosesswali!’ Sempliċiment iċ-ċirkostanzi juru x’inhuma t-tendenzi sesswali ta’ dal-karattru. Fi kliem ieħor, mhemmx ġudizzju morali. Ma jistax ikun hemm.”

L-awtur interessatu t-tema tal-familja għax hi aspett li ġieli jissemma fid-diskors pubbliku f’Malta. Minn barra li hi xi ħaġa li esperjenzaha, anki jekk familtu m’għandhiex x’taqsam ma’ tal-ktieb.

“Imma f’kull familja jkun hemm dawk il-power games sottili u mhux daqshekk sottili, li lili jinteressawni għax ta’ spiss jibqgħu taħt il-wiċċ jew ma jissemmewx b’isimhom.

“Hemm ukoll l-idea li dawn in-nies jgħixu ma’ xulxin. Imma fil-fatt kemm jafu lil xulxin? Għalhekk kull kapitlu hu miktub minn membru speċifiku tal-familja. Kemm huma kapaċi jmorru “lil hinn mill-jien” u jaraw ir-realtà minn għajnejn oħra, anke minn għajnejn persuni qrib tagħhom bħal omm, missier, jew aħwa. Fl-aħħar mill-aħħar, aħna waħedna.”

L-awtur isejjaħ lil dan il-ktieb bħala aperitiv għax idewwaq xogħlu lill-qarrejja qabel it-tieni wieħed u jippreferih minn ‘Lil Hinn Mill-Jien’.

“ ‘Żewġ’ hu iktar għal qalbi għax parti minnu miktuba iktar reċenti. ‘Lil Hinn Mill-Jien’ ktibtu xi sitt snin ilu u ż-żewġ novelli f’Żewġ’, waħda minnhom ktibtha din is-sena u l-oħra fl-1998!”
‘Żewġ’ tnieda waqt il-Festival tal-Letteratura fil-Birgu li ntemm ilbieraħ. Il-ktieb se jkun għall-bejgħ fil-ħwienet tal-kotba.

EU Parliament: Lithuanian law on child protection: MEPs say changes needed
Justice and home affairs - 16-09-2009

Lithuania should reconsider recent changes in its child protection legislation to avoid any possibility of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, according to the European Parliament.

MEPs say the wording of the law is "vague and legally unclear and might lead to controversial interpretations." They say it is unclear what kind of materials are concerned and whether it extends to books, art, press, publicity, music, theatre, exhibitions or demonstrations.

While acknowledging the need for "appropriate legal protection" of children, Parliament stresses the importance of fighting discrimination "in particular [...] based on sexual orientations."

Parliament welcomes more recent steps to review the changes and asks Lithuania to ensure that their laws are compatible with international and European human and civil rights legislation. MEPs want the Agency for Fundamental Rights to give an opinion and for Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee to follow up the issue.

Parliament adopted its resolution by 349 votes in favour to 218 against with 46 abstentions.
[Note: All Maltese MEPs voted in favour of this resolution -
MaltaToday: Casa and Busuttil join pro-gay majority]


In July the Lithuanian parliament approved changes to child protection legislation, although these are now under review by the national authorities. The law as amended bans "public information that promotes homosexual relations" from any place where it can be accessed by children, as it may cause "a detrimental effect on the development of minors".

REF. : 20090915IPR60711

Baptiste CHATAIN
Tel : (32-2) 28 40992 (BXL); email :

Tel: (32-2) 28 32006 (BXL); email:

Friday, 25 September 2009

Times: Nationalists rejoice after Belgrade Gay Pride cancelled

Sunday, 20th September 2009


A banner referring to the gay pride parade was displayed among supporters of Partizan Belgrade FC, during the UEFA Europa league football match against Toulouse in Belgrade last Thursday.

Organisers of a Gay Pride parade in Belgrade yesterday called off the march after the government said it could not prevent clashes with extremists, rejecting a suggestion to shift the venue.

The event would have been the first for nearly a decade since the last gay rights march broke up amid violent clashes with right-wing extremists.

Nationalists hailed the cancellation saying it was a defeat for "infidels and Satanists".

Organiser Dragana Vuckovic told B92 television that Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic "handed us a paper informing us that the parade was not possible (in central Belgrade) because the risks were too high".

Vuckovic said organisers cancelled the event, planned for today, after police suggested it could instead take place in a field.

"That would be unacceptable for us. As a result we decided to cancel the event," she told AFP. The Beta news agency said police had proposed Usce, a large open space across the Sava river from the city centre, to host the event. It had been planned for outside the philosophy faculty in the middle of Belgrade.

"The message of equal rights is transmitted symbolically when a group on the margins is able to parade in the centre of the capital," Vuckovic said. She said the organisers were calling on the government to open an investigation to determine who had threatened the march.

Vuckovic hailed messages of support from the authorities and vowed to try again next year but alleged there had been "operational obstructions" to staging the parade.

President Boris Tadic warned Friday against creating an "atmosphere of chaos" and "threats and violence" in Belgrade after two French football fans were injured in a clash with fans of Partizan Belgrade. Football supporters are prominent in the nationalist and right-wing groups which had threatened violence against participants in the gay rights march.

"The state will do everything to protect people, whatever their national, religious, sexual or political orientation, and no group must resort to threats and violence, or take justice into its own hands and jeopardise the lives of those who think or are different," Tadic said.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

MGRM: ILGA-Europe Conference - Malta 2009

21.9.9 by Colette Farrugia Bennett

Dear Friends,

Hereunder, please find an invitation to participate in the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference that shall be held in Malta in October, as well as an appeal for hosts of ILGA-Europe Conference Participants.

31st European Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association
13th ILGA-Europe conference

Malta, 29 October – 1 November
Organised in association with the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM)

The Malta Gay Rights Movement is this year hosting the Annual Conference of ILGA Europe, which will take place between the 29th October and 1st November 2009 at the Corinthia Marina Hotel, St George’s Bay, St Julians.

The topic of this year’s conference is “Overcoming Cultural Barriers to LGBT Equality”. The Conference is not only the annual general assembly of the organization, where stock will be taken of last year’s activities and a new Executive Board elected, but also an exciting forum to meet activists from all over Europe and to attend a wide range of interesting plenary sessions with high-level speakers and a series of workshops. This will reflect the work of ILGA-Europe and its members in dialogue with faith-based institutions and public awareness-raising, as well as debates on the role of religion and beliefs, culture and social norms in overcoming discrimination on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The Conference will include a variety of plenary sessions and workshops to cover the human rights context. The content will cover in depth issues of culture, education, employment; social inclusion, religion, parenting and transgender issues.

The Conference is a unique opportunity for the Maltese LGBT community and others who are interested in LGBT rights. Participation is possible through attendance for all or parts of the conference depending on availability. Those interested need to fill in the registration form and forward it to MGRM by not later than the 1st of October 2009. Further information about the conference programme can be obtained from


The Malta Gay Rights Movement is hosting the 31st Annual Conference of ILGA Europe, which will take place between the 28th October and 1st November 2009 at the Corinthia Marina Hotel, St George’s Bay, St Julians, Malta. Around 200 LGBT activists from all over Europe will be participating in the conference.

For a number of participants this is also a unique opportunity to visit Malta. We are therefore looking for a number of people who would be willing to host the conference participants for two to four days either before or after the conference.

If you can offer this service please provide us with the following information by sending us an email on

How many people you can host
Whether you would rather host male or female participants
How many days you are prepared to host
Whether you would prefer to host before or after the conference

Gabi Calleja

Thank you

Guardian: How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays

Iraqi militias infiltrate internet gay chatrooms to hunt their quarry – and hundreds are feared to be victims
The Observer, Sunday 13 September 2009 by Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke

The bodies of gays on the streets of Iraq. Photograph: Bilal Hussein/AP

Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."

The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone.

Dr Toby Dodge, of London University's Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. "Militia groups whose raison d'être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries," Dodge said.

Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein – indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become "the worst place for homosexuals on Earth".

The killings are brutal, with victims ritually tortured. Azhar al-Saeed's son was one. "He didn't follow what Islamic doctrine tells but he was a good son," she said. "Three days after his kidnapping, I found a note on my door with blood spread over it and a message saying it was my son's purified blood and telling me where to find his body."

She went with police to find her son's remains. "We found his body with signs of torture, his anus filled with glue and without his genitals," she said. "I will carry this image with me until my dying day."

Police officers interviewed by the Observer said the killings were not aimed at gays but were isolated remnants of the sectarian violence that racked the country between 2005 and 2006. Hamizi's group, however, boasts that two people a day are chosen to be "investigated" in Baghdad. The group claims that local tribes are involved in homophobic attacks, choosing members to hunt down the victims. In some areas, a list of names is posted at restaurants and food shops.

The roommate of Haydar, 26, was kidnapped and killed three months ago in Baghdad. After Haydar contacted the last person his friend had been chatting with on the net, he found a letter on his front door alerting him "about the dangers of behaving against Islamic rules". Haydar plans to flee to Amman, the Jordanian capital. "I have… to run away before I suffer the same fate," he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Shia militia known as the Mahdi army may be among the militants implicated in the violence, particularly in the northern part of Baghdad known as Sadr City. There are reports that Mahdi army militias are harassing young men simply for wearing "western fashions".

A Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, denied allegations of police collaboration. "The Iraqi police exists to protect all Iraqis, whatever their sexual persuasion," he said.

Hashim, another victim of violence by extremists, was attacked on Abu Nawas Street. Famous for its restaurants and bars, the street has become a symbol of the relative progress made in Baghdad. But it was where Hashim was set on by four men, had a finger cut off and was badly beaten. His assailants left a note warning that he had one month to marry and have "a traditional life" or die.

"Since that day I have not left my home. I'm too scared and don't have money to run away," Hashim said.

EdgeBoston: Police Seek Suspects in Ontario Anti-Gay Bashing with Brick
Wednesday Sep 9, 2009 by Kilian Melloy, EDGE Staff Reporter

John Raynard was beaten by a group of men who were shouting anti-gay epithets (Source:Posted at

A mob of anti-gay assailants allegedly chased down a 30-year-old man in Ontario and evidently used the brick he had picked up for self-defense to fracture a number of his facial bones.

A Sept. 7 article at tbsnewswatch reported that the vicious anti-gay attack took place early in the morning hours of Sept. 5 in the small Northwestern Ontario city of Thunder Bay.

A group of men chased down and beat John Raynard after trailing behind Raynard and his friends, yelling anti-gay epithets, the article said.

Raynard, who suffered more than a dozen facial fractures, will require reconstructive surgery.

The article said that Raynard and two friends were outside a night spot when a lone man came up to them to ask for a cigarette. The man then became abusive, at which point Raynard and his friends tried to walk away.

But the man followed after, with others joining him and shouting out anti-gay insults.

The article quoted Raynard as recalling, "It was like they were waiting in the woodwork.

"The crowd just seemed to get bigger."

When one assailant began to throttle Raynard’s friend, Raynard struck him in an attempt to defend the victim; then Raynard began to shout.

"I managed to fend off six to eight people by yelling long enough to get them into a cab," the article quoted Raynard as saying.

But when Raynard tried to get into the cab with his two friends, the crowd of men pressed in, making it impossible. Raynard then ran, heading for a nearby restaurant. He picked up a brick along the way, thinking he would use it in self-defense, but even as he pounded the window of the restaurant, the mob descended upon him and evidently used the brick Raynard was carrying to beat him about the face, inflicting the numerous fractures.

Raynard said that throughout the pursuit, he continued shouting to draw help. "I was screaming loud enough to wake up six blocks," the article quoted him as saying.

"How did nobody hear me?"

Once the mob set on him, the article said, Raynard had no further recollection until he regained consciousness that afternoon in the hospital.

The hospital staff claimed not to know how Raynard reached the hospital; his sister, Jackii, only learned of her brother’s injuries when he called her himself after coming to his sense.

Reckoned Raynard, "I’m lucky to be alive."

Jackii Raynard spoke out, calling the incident "a hate crime."

Noted Jackii Raynard, "They broke the whole left side of his face.

"His face speaks for itself."

The article said that besides Raynard, three others were reportedly assaulted and ended up in the hospital; police are investigating all the alleged assaults.

Meantime, the community of Thunder Bay has come to Raynard’s aid as he convalesces. reports that a Facebook page has been established for Raynard, and that local GLBT equality advocates are standing up to violence targeting gays.

The article quoted Juan Anderson, who set up the Facebook page, as saying, "The level of support coming forth is overwhelming.

"The community is rallying around Jake and taking a firm stance against hate crimes in our community. Let’s spread that sentiment as far we can."

Anderson announced that a rally against violence would convene Friday night at 6:00 p.m. "All people who support Jake and believe that this action has no place in our community are asked to attend," the article reads.

Moreover, a fund for Raynard has been established to help cover his medical costs, his living costs during his convalescence, and any legal costs that may arise as the case around the assault develops.

Said Anderson, "It is our response that defines us, not this crime."

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

MaltaToday: AD – ‘Government should not stigmatise single mothers’

Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green Party expressed its disagreement at the way government had “singled out single mothers to curtail its budgetary deficit.”

Michael Briguglio, spokesperson for Social and Economic Development, said finance minister Tonio Fenech should explain why he chose to pinpoint single mothers in his speech on reform in welfare benefits.

“Rather than attempting to score cheap political points, Fenech should consult sociological research which clearly shows that single parents are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society. Making them scapegoats for Government austerity measures, will only help increase poverty, social exclusion and social stigma.”

Fenech has insisted that benefits to single mothers will be reviewed in the upcoming Budget, to ensure benefits are paid to those women who deserve them. He said the benefits should not act as a disincentive for mothers to enter the labour market. “There are single mothers who are deserving of the benefit and we have to continue to sustain them but we have to make sure that the woman does not find it comfortable to remain at home with the government effectively paying her a wage.”

Briguglio said that if the Nationalist Government wants more single mothers in employment, then it should encourage them to do so through the provision of affordable and accessible childcare centres, “flexible working hours coupled with job security, fiscal incentives, and, where possible and recommendable, making absent fathers responsible for their children.”

AD chairperson Profs. Arnold Cassola: “The Nationalist government under Lawrence Gonzi keeps moving towards an ultra-conservative and neo-liberal direction. Rather than devising inclusive laws towards different family forms, the Gonzi government is totally cut off from the realities of single mothers, single fathers, same-sex couples, partners in cohabitation and people who would like to re-marry following a failed marriage. This is fuelling social exclusion and inequality.”

Cassola said that while abuse in benefits should be tackled, the economic crisis has also impacted government finances. “But if Dr Gonzi and Minister Fenech have a problem with government finances, they should also look at unsustainable electoral promises and shameful decisions such as the discount of €3.3 million to Midi for waste dumped at sea.”

[The same press release has been published here too:]