Thursday, 12 November 2009

Independent: Female PM, yes... lesbian non-Catholic, no chance

10.11.9? by Chiara Bonello

Anyone aspiring to the prestigious post of Prime Minister of Malta must first ensure that they personally comply with a number of requirements; namely one must be straight, hold Roman Catholic beliefs and be of the same ethnic origin.

These results were revealed by the Eurobarometer survey on discrimination in Europe, which was published yesterday by the European Commission. On a European level, discrimination on ethnic grounds is the most prevalent form, followed closely by age and disability.

A mere one per cent of the Maltese respondents would be reluctant to have a woman filling the shoes of Prime Minister, and 78 per cent would have no problem with female representation. If the possibility of different sexual orientation, an alternate religious belief or a different race loomed on the horizon, however, it would be a different story.

These possibilities instill feelings of fear and trepidation among the respondents, as more than 25 per cent say they would be very uncomfortable with the idea of having a Prime Minister of different religious beliefs or ethnic origin. In both cases more than half of the respondents fall well below the comfortable mark.

In general the ideas of a leader aged over 75 or having a different sexual orientation is only slightly less palatable, according to the survey, with some 32 per cent finding the idea disquieting

On a general level ethnic origin seems to be the most common basis for discrimination in Malta, with some 77 per cent judging it to be between fairly and very widespread. The same is true of the European Union in general, with 61 per cent perceiving it to be the most common.

Furthermore, it seems that more than half the respondents believe this problem to have grown significantly over the past five years, becoming more widespread. When it comes to creating equal opportunities for people of different ethnic origin, on the other hand, some 55 per cent are in favour.

Sexual orientation is another issue for most respondents, with a mere 12 per cent describing the problem as very rare or non existent. Some 47 per cent believe the problem has become only slightly more widespread.

The respondents were generally in favour of equal job opportunities, despite the various differences. 88 per cent were for identical opportunities for men and women, and 81 per cent supported equal opportunities for people of different sexual orientations. Neither age nor religion was considered reason for biased opportunities.

Compared to the16 per cent of Europeans who reported experiencing some form of discrimination over the past twelve months, the Maltese are not too hard done by.

Some 90 per cent claim that they have not experienced any form of discrimination over the same period, and moreover 73 per cent claim they have not witnessed any form of discrimination over the same period.

Overall the majority are thus far undecided as to whether enough is done to combat discrimination in Malta, as 74 per cent is equally divided between those who believe enough is being done and those who think this is not really the case.

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