Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Times: Female PM? Only if she's straight, white and Catholic!

Tuesday, 10th November 2009 - 10:31CET by Ivan Camilleri

The Maltese will readily accept a female to run the country as Prime Minister... provided she is not a lesbian, has the same ethnic origin as the rest of the population and is Roman Catholic.

This emerges from a Eurobarometer survey on discrimination in Europe, published yesterday by the European Commission in Brussels.

The survey, conducted by Misco in May, shows that the overwhelming majority of Maltese, 77 per cent, think discrimination against immigrants in Malta is rampant and has become more widespread over the last five years.

Ethnic origin is the most widespread form of perceived discrimination on the island, according to the survey's respondents, followed by sexual orientation. The most striking responses from the survey surfaced when respondents were asked whether they would be comfortable having a person from a particular category occupying the country's highest political office.

The results show that although the majority said they would be fine with having a woman at Castille - 78 per cent were comfortable and 13 per cent disagree with the idea - only 22 per cent would accept having a Maltese Prime Minister embracing a different religion to theirs. The majority, 69 per cent, admitted they would be uncomfortable if the Prime Minister was not Roman Catholic.

Other characteristics were also deemed to be of utmost importance in the profile of a Maltese Prime Minister. In fact, 45 per cent said they would be very uncomfortable if the person was gay or lesbian and 73 per cent said they would not accept having a leader of a different ethnic origin.

Age also seems to play an important role, as maturity is deemed important in a Prime Minister: 45 per cent said they would not feel comfortable with a person who was under 30, although 46 per cent said this would be acceptable. On the other hand, 78 per cent said they would feel uncomfortable having a Prime Minister aged over 75 years.

Generally, the survey's results show discrimination in Malta is perceived as more widespread with regard to ethnic origin and sexual orientation when compared to the rest of the EU. On the other hand, Malta is more tolerant than the EU average when it comes to discrimination on the basis of disability and gender.

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

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