Saturday, 6 February 2010

Times: Blog: No gay matter

by Charlò Bonnici, Wednesday, 3rd February 2010

Let me say it from the outset. I respect the right of every person to make his or her choices in life including with whom to share a life, a house and whom to love and cherish. In a local contest I also go one step further: I am ready to support, even in parliament, the call for more legal rights for same sex couples who have chosen to live together and to build a life together.

However, I must admit that I am utterly disappointment with MGRM's latest position against President Abela's statements in favour of positive action to safeguard the Maltese family. The Head of State spoke at a national conference entitled The family: yesterday, today and tomorrow organised by the Ministry for Social Policy.

MGRM takes exception to a number of statements included in the President's speech and in my opinion manipulates a number of points raised by the President in order to push forward their cause.

MGRM feels that by defining the family as a man and a woman, in a life-long commitment which sometimes leads to procreation, the President excluded all the other forms of relationships that may exist including that of childless couples. Whoever followed or read the President's speech would realise that the Head of State's intention was not to exclude anyone but to focus on a concept of ‘family' which has existed since time immemorial and which he, myself and many others feel is the ‘ideal' we should strive for.

MGRM is entitled to its opinion on this basic issue, however it should not try to impose it on anyone else particularly on whoever has a role in this country of doing what is obviously in the national interest. This also applies to the definition of ‘marriage'. MGRM and others seem to challenge this notion as well.

So now we are under pressure to accept that ‘marriage' as we have known it for so many years needs to be re-defined to suit the ambitions of a powerful lobby who want open up this concept to other forms of relationships as well. Just because some countries have allowed same-sex ‘marriages' does not mean that this trend should be accepted by others. This has nothing to do with prejudice or discrimination. This has nothing to do with semantics.

If MGRM does not believe that the country should to do its utmost to strengthen the Maltese family, as defined by the President, it's ok. This is a free country and everyone is entitled to one's opinion. However, they should realise that by doing so they might be doing a disservice to the same people they are supposed to speak for.
Many gays and lesbians are happy to be living as part of a so called traditional family unit. I am sure they do not mind that their President or any other politician speaks in favour of positive action aimed at safeguarding the same ‘family' concept they are obviously happy with.

The local gay and lesbian lobby also takes exception to President's Abela questioning of whether children adopted by same-sex couples could lead to the suffering psychological and social harm. I am sure the President didn't mean that all children who are growing up within such setting have psychological or social problems.
On the other hand, I am sure that there are children growing up within a ‘traditional' family who are suffering for some reason. However, why MGRM expected the Head of State to speak about exceptions rather than the norm, the logical, the truth that has been tried and tested since many, many years, escapes me. Yes, the truth is that children will benefit more from a heterosexual family. Having a mother and a father is much better than having just a mother, just a father, just two women or just two men raising you. It does not mean that the different forms of ‘family' cannot guarantee ‘love, responsibility and the ability to provide for the needs of the child'. We are talking here about what's best. What's ideal.

MGRM's disservice to the same people it is supposed to speak for continues in the last paragraph of their press release when they describe the conference ‘nothing more than propaganda for a conservative's government agenda and the religious right that sits solidly behind it'.

So those running the association representing gays and lesbians have turned their guns onto the government for taking the initiative in discussing such an important subject claiming that this was just a propaganda exercise. My feeling on reading this part of their press statement was that MGRM seems to be dancing to someone else's tune. I hope I am wrong. MGRM also criticised the Church for taking part in a conference, aimed at discussing a subject close to its heart in, ‘full force'.
So now MGRM are expecting the Catholic Church to stay away from such a discussion not to give the impression that they are pulling the government's strings!

Come on MGRM! You should take a reality check. Taking such irrational positions does not help the cause of the people you should be representing. There are issues you should be working on in tandem with others. No one is saying that you should not come out in force to put pressure where pressure is due. It's your duty to do so because there are still miles to be covered in a struggle for equality and justice. But by taking the route you seem to be taking you run the risk of being labelled a radical group alienated from a society you should care for.

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

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