Wednesday, 21 July 2010

MaltaToday: Photos from the Gay Pride: Legal recognition of gay couples at the top of LGBT agenda
17.7.2010 by Miriam Dalli

Gay Pride in Valletta (see more photos here, by Denise Scicluna)

Around 250 activists from the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) today rallied under the scorching sun to reaffirm equal recognition stand. The pride march, which forms part of the Pride Week 2010, carried the theme of 'Rights Now!'

'Rights Now!' is a call for politicians and policy makers to the recognition of LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender) rights which cannot be postponed any longer. Filling up the march were multi-coloured balloons and banners, together with whistling and horn sounds. The march was officially opened by singers Chiara and Muxu who sung the song 'Believe'.

Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the MGRM said that this pride march forms part of the Euro Pride, which will take place today at noon in Warsaw. "In itself, this event commemorates the times when gay people had to hide and this march is a statement," she said.

Calleja said that in around 80 countries around the world, being gay is seen as a criminal act. Asked by MaltaToday what the priorities for the MGRM are today, Calleja said the legal recognition of couples of the same sex is always on top of the agenda. "However, we are also stressing on the importance of transgender rights. They should not be forced to surgically change their sex to be recognized as the other sex," adding at the same time that access to such surgery should be made easier.

An English activist who came to Malta to support the pride march, said that she was here to help raise awareness in Malta about LGBT rights: "we are normal people just as everyone and we deserve equal rights." The activist advised that Maltese gays should feel comfortable about who they are, whilst encouraging them to "come out".

German MEP Holger Krahmer was also present at the march. He said that it is was important for all of the EU countries to recognize gay rights, which are human rights and that gay lifestyles should be respected. He said that EU laws enforce such respect adding that "time has come for Malta to enforce this respect." Krahmer told MaltaToday that the anti-discrimination laws from the European Parliament should be enforced to pressure governments and organizations to move towards LGBT rights.

Present at the pride march were also Labour MPs Evarist Bartolo, Owen Bonnici, Nationalist MPs David Agius and Karl Gouder, and Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Michael Briguglio. Evarist Bartolo, who is a regular attendee for the pride march, said that participating is a show of solidarity. Bartolo explained how many of these persons are finding it hard to find a job and were living in poverty. "These persons are not able to live in our society. We have to change our law to improve their lives," Bartolo said.

Michael Briguglio said Alternattiva Demokratika have long been fighting for gay rights. "We are in full favour of the antidiscrimination directive. As a group, AD has always believed in the cause and in all rights for LGBT."

David Agius said the Nationalist Party believed in equality and rights for all. "However, we still have to discuss our official position as a party," he said after MaltaToday asked for his opinion with regards to gay marriages and adoption.

Owen Bonnici's opinion with regards to gay marriages and adoption is that the first step was to build a cohabitation law, which is strong and right for all.

The Graffiti Movement called out for all Maltese LGBT that they need to come out and support each other. Addressing the MPs, a spokesperson for the movement said that being present at the rally is not enough and they need to show their true support when they vote. Sending a message to the families and relatives, the spokesperson said that they need to support their children adding that, "God is far above from religion."

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