Saturday, 22 May 2010

Di-ve: International Day Against Homophobia marked
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Current Affairs -- 17 May 2010 -- 12:55CEST

Maltese gay rights organisations are joining fellow organisations worldwide in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is held on May 17 every year.
The aim of the annual event, the MGRM said, is to serve as a reminder that homophobia and transphobia are “shameful reactions that must be openly fought against in today’s democratic societies.”

This year’s theme is religions and religious oppression of sexual minorities, with gay rights organisations noting that religious arguments are frequently being used to justify homophobic and transphobic acts across the world. In a number of Middle-Eastern and African countries with a strong religious presence, people can incur the death penalty for homosexual acts.

To mark the occasion, the Malta Gay Rights Movement and Drachma, a Catholic LGBT group, have gathered at City Gate in Valletta to distribute flowers to passers-by as a sign of friendship, respect and mutual collaboration. Attached to the flowers is a bookmark with a positive quote attached to it.

In line with this year’s theme, the groups have selected 2 quotes by theologians. The first, by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu, reads “a parent who brings up a child to be a racist damages that child, damages the community in which they live, damages our hopes for a better world. A parent who teaches a child that there is only one sexual orientation and that anything else is evil denies our humanity and their own too.”

The second, by British Catholic priest James Alison, states that “we do now have a firmer sense that being gay or lesbian is a regularly occurring non-pathological minority variant in the human condition, and we are beginning to get a sense that there are forms of flourishing proper to that condition – for instance, being allowed to live honestly and to undergo the humanization of desire openly in relationships with other such people.”

In a statement issued on the occasion, Alternattiva Demokratika appealed for the adoption of legislation to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, deeming it necessary for an inclusive social policy.

“We have always been against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and we are the only party with a clear declared stand in favour of civil partnerships,” chairman Michael Briguglio said, while civil rights spokesman Yvonne Arqueros Ebejer added that other parties should clarify their position on the EU anti-discrimination directive.

LGBT Labour also issued a statement, in which it noted that of the 2 major political parties, the Labour Party is the only one to have taken a clear stand against homophobia, with leader Joseph Muscat declaring that people who harboured homophobic sentiments had no place within the party.

“We hope that this day will serve to continue our fight against homophobia which brings nothing but hatred and anguish not only to LGBT people but also to their families, their friends and their loved ones.”

In a statement issued on behalf of the EU, High Representative Catherine Ashton said that the union rejected and condemned any manifestation of homophobia as a “blatant violation of human dignity”, and considered discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to be incompatible with the basic principles on which the EU is founded.

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