Monday, 9 November 2009

MaltaStar: “Education can eradicate homophobia”

08 November 2009 14:13
Albert Gauci Cunningham sees in education the most powerful tool to eradicate homophobia and sow the seed of equality.

26 year old gay activist Mr Gauci Cunningham is one of the persons behind the setting up of a Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transexual (LGBT) section in the Labour Party. He discusses the role LGBT people can play in Maltese politics.

What is your general perception of homosexuality in Malta?

My perception is that Malta lacks that basic key to solving half of the problems gay people face, problems that if looked at closely stem from the misplaced conservative ideas and attitudes many hold so close to their hearts. If we want to change the situation then we must start from this very basic key; education. It's useless blabbing about equality and gay rights if our society isn't ready to start fostering a mentality where children from their early teenage years are informed about the possibility that either they or the student behind them or the one next to them or the teacher teaching the class might be gay.

Yes, as hard as it is for some to stomach, kids at school have to be taught from an early age that apart from guys/girls who like the opposite sex there are others (although smaller in number) who prefer somebody of the same sex, people who pass through traumas trying to understand who they really are and what their identity is and who should be helped not shackled in the 'coming out' period. But education goes further than that too.

How prepared is a heterosexual woman who is married and pregnant to face the possibility of having a gay child? How will she and her husband deal with the shock? How will they ever accept something that goes diametrically opposite to what they've been taught by their parents? The answer is probably quite obvious; there is no answer to any of them! Why? Because those who push the Conservative agenda would rather if these issues were not discussed so as not to cause some embarrassment, stupidly omitting the fact that some parents will ultimately face the situation and will be left in the cold making irrational and emotion-laden decisions which would probably worsen an already sensitive situation.

Yes, gay rights such as civil partnerships and laws banning hate crimes are very important and need to be immediately discussed if the individual is really in the center of this government's politics, as the PN so enjoys reminding us, but if we want “sustainability”, if we want long term solutions, if we want to eradicate hate crimes and if we want to sow the seed of equality than we have to start from the basics. I know that this might not be convenient enough for gay people today and I know that it's easier said than done, but LGBT people today have a chance of a lifetime to start building a better society for LGBT people of tomorrow!

It is believed that 3% of the Maltese population falls within the LGBT bracket. Yet it is no strong lobby group (like the environmentalist or hunters for instance). Why is so?

I believe that gay people have never known anything better in Malta, they are used to being governed by a Conservative government very close to the church who funnily enough was seen to be more Liberal than the Socialists up to a few years ago due to the EU issue (which I have a feeling the overwhelming majority of gay people voted for).

There is a lack of empowerment and a feeling of helplessness, an idea of “I can't change anything and my opinion doesn't count.” The Nationalists know this and they wisely feed on it, hoping that the more helpless and apathetic gay people feel the less they will believe that change could ever materialise!

I feel that many gay people have given up on politics and they have or are turning their backs on politicians telling them two different things. To the nationalists many gay people are saying: “You've never done anything for us, your rank and file is generally very conservative and the numerous gays within the PN have either done nothing or even worse been the stumbling blocks against opening up to more gay people”.

To the PL I imagine many saying “yes you are trying to include gay people finally but is this some kind of joke to get our votes? Because if it is you can go to hell and back”. So with the PN there is the feeling of loss of hope while with the PL there is still that blessed question mark hanging over its head! So yes homosexuals know that they can be influential but with so little interest taken in them and after so many heartaches and rejection they feel they'd rather go to a party and send politicians a one-way ticket to hell.

Next Sunday, Albert Gauci Cunningham discusses civil rights and the LGBT Labour.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on MaltaStar's website.]

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