Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Times: Labour Party's new LGBT network (1) & (2)

Tuesday, 10th November 2009 by Gabi Gauci, member of LGBT Labour, St Julians

Last week a great historical event occurred: for the first time in Malta's history, Malta's Labour Party acknowledged the needs of the LGBT community by launching the first LGBT political group. This group strives to push forward equality and rights for the LGBT community, something which no other political party endeavours to do.

The term LGBT was first coined in the 1990s and has since become known as the international colloquial term emphasising the diversity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals. This term has also been used worldwide to refer to anyone who is not heterosexual.

People within the LGBT community have long since been treated as second-class citizens who do not enjoy the benefits of equal rights as heterosexual people. Thankfully in most of the world this has ceased to be the case. However, unfortunately, in Malta this is very much the truth - although people have become accepting (to a certain extent) we are not treated as equals.

The only legislation to have been passed was by Dom Mintoff in the 1980s decriminalising homosexual acts. So thankfully we now enjoy the privilege of doing legally what comes naturally to us. One must ask, however, whether this is enough? This group acts for the good of the LGBT community to promote their rights; not only, as the majority of the Maltese people seems to think, for marital rights but also civil rights.

One might think that gay people enjoy the same benefits that everybody else does, but this is sadly not the case. Are we allowed bereavement leave if our partner were to pass away? No.

Are we entitled to their inheritance in absence of a will? No. Are we considered family when visiting our partner in hospital during family hours? No. Are we entitled to the same civil benefits of a married couple? No. As one can see, it is not only marriage that we are fighting for, but merely to receive the same benefits as a heterosexual couple. Are we not entitled to this? Why should one's sexuality play any part in determining what would otherwise be considered as our basic human rights?

These are exactly the issues which LGBT Labour is trying to fight for. We are not intending to segregate the community, as has been thought by several readers, but rather to fight for equality as a community.

Since no other political party or non-governmental organisation is attempting to do this, the formation of this group, under the open-minded leadership of Joseph Muscat, is a necessary step in the progression of the LGBT community in Malta.

LGBT Labour opens its arms to anyone within the community who wishes to join, no matter their political views or status. We call on the people of our community who, one assumes, would want to be treated with equal respect - and not just acceptance - to join us in fighting for what should be rightfully ours.

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

Times: Labour Party's new LGBT network (2)

Tuesday, 10th November 2009 by John C. Micallef, Żabbar

A piece of local news last week caught some attention - collecting praise from some people and flak from some others. I am referring to the PL's proposed setting up of a section that caters for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

Now, on face value, one would definitely say that this is a positive move for any political party that deems itself to be on the forefront of progress and openness.

I do not know whether the LP feels that those among us who fall into these categories are being prejudiced in some way. It might be. However, any rights that may be denied are the simple, basic human rights that any citizen living in a democratic and just society would expect to have.

Someone applying for a job would expect to be judged on his/her capabilities and certainly not on whether he/she is gay or straight (notwithstanding some may have their reservations if an interviewee turned up dressed as a drag queen!). Similarly, no one has the right to treat a person differently on any basis whatsoever - be it colour, creed, political belief or sexual orientation. Or age, if you would allow me to add something else. Any sort of harassment is also deplored and unlawful - regardless of the sexual orientation of the victim.

So when one expects that he or she has the same rights as anyone else, what is the use of stigmatising people into groups in the name of their rights - which are basically the same rights as anyone else's?

Should a single mother be prejudiced when applying for a job? Certainly not, but I do not recall there being any sections (within any political party) to cater for her needs. Should a 45 or 50-year old person be prejudiced when applying for a job? Of course not, but many are.

I would now invite the PL (and PN and AD for all they could stand for) to set up sections to cater for the rights of the various segments of society that may be prejudiced in some way.

Maybe they could also set up a section for big-bosomed girls who complain that they never get looked straight in the eyes during job interviews.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment