Thursday, 26 November 2009

Times: Gays, lesbians and special pleading

Thursday, 26th November 2009 by Josie Muscat, leader, Azzjoni Nazzjonali, Marsascala

The trouble with the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual community is that they see nobody else on the horizon except themselves. And considering the discrimination they have been subjected to, I can understand that and make allowances for it.

But Bernard Muscat (November 20) has failed to understand the main thrust of my letter. When I set up the Eden Foundation, I fought tooth and nail to get children with disability out of the ghetto of "special" schools and to have them integrated into the mainstream school community. I understood very early that when the disadvantaged and those suffering discrimination allow them themselves to be sectionalised, they do themselves no good. People with disability in Malta started improving their lot, dismantling the barriers of prejudice when they started attending mainstream schools with their peers and earning a living by working in the same offices and sharing the same shop-floors with other citizens. They did not earn their badge of citizenship by staying apart from the others and asking for favours or additional rights.

They are different and that difference is part of the variegated colours of humanity. Their difference should not serve to create obstacles in their way but neither does it justify special pleading. This applies to all groups who believe they suffer from any form of discrimination.
Mr Muscat also accused Azzjoni Nazzjonali's electoral manifesto regarding the LGBT community as being a political ploy. Again he has misunderstood. If he comes to St James Hospital he will see members of his community employed there. Don't ask me who they are because sexual orientation is not a criterion for employment. To me they are men and women who carry out a job and who get paid for it: nothing more, nothing less. And that is the way I believe it ought to be. In Azzjoni Nazzjonali's manifesto we declared, loudly and clearly, that by family we mean the union of a man and a woman and we are prepared to do our utmost not to have that compromised. However, we were more than ready, on the advice of members of the LGBT community, to promise the full legal benefits of a civil union to gay couples. We were not prepared to go beyond that and have not changed our minds on the subject. That surely is our prerogative.

We have been true to what was stated in our manifesto. We did not try to profit from the plight, perceived or otherwise, of the LGBT community. We did not promise gays more than we were prepared to give. It is of course Mr Muscat's prerogative to make his political choices.

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

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