Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Times: Malta: Where gays are second-class citizens

Ten years ago, I was one of those who founded the first organised Maltese gay rights movement. Today, as we near the Gay Pride (Saturday, July 17), I wish to express some views.

Nowadays, in many corners of Europe, gays are getting there, getting equal rights to heterosexuals. Some countries are moving fast and others more slowly, but still moving. In democratic Malta, things are very different. No, we gay people are second-class citizens, we enjoy lesser rights than our counterparts. And why, may I ask? Don't we have to abide by the same laws as others do. Don't we have to carry the burden of all the taxes that the government imposes?

I really feel sorry for our politicians. Aren't they bright enough to distinguish between politics and religion? As Jesus Christ himself said, "Give God what is due to God, and Caesar what is due to Caesar". Are they so Catholic if they do not know this simple phrase that came out from Christ's own mouth? We are Maltese citizens and not Vatican citizens. Where law is concerned, whatever it might be, we are held responsible to the country and not the Church. So dear Prime Minister, Cabinet members and parliamentarians from both sides, reflect on these words and reflect well.

Ten years ago I believed that with our accession to the EU, things would start moving. How wrong I was (at least it seems like it). For the younger generation of gays, EU membership may have served them well. Knowing that gay people in Malta have no real future, they decided to leave to real democratic countries where there are no second-class citizens. One might say that I am exaggerating but I am not. I have been abroad and met some of these young chaps (whom I knew in Malta) and they remarked about their venture for a freer life where they could exercise their rights as gay people. It is a shame really. They had to deport themselves from our country.

I am now turning 50 and have been involved in politics since I was 16. I have always considered my country's needs before my own and always worked for Malta to be democratic. But now I am fed up of this all. I have given so many years to my country in my own ways but now I feel that my country is letting me down. I will not hesitate to say that, in the upcoming general election, I will not vote unless it is for a party that promises, in writing, to undertake a review of gay rights by a certain deadline. I mention the deadline because I know from past experience that politicians promise prospective voters anything in the world but are unlikely to ever fulfil that promise. I dare politicians (or parties) to make this promise in writing and set a deadline to uphold their promise.

While gay people have their own political beliefs, now is the time to unite. I urge them to scrutinise well the political agenda of all parties concerned and vote not with their hearts but with their minds in the next general election. We must stand up and stamp our feet and not let politicians use us as puppets.

I urge gay people to attend the Gay Pride march to show our leaders our support.

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

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