Wednesday, 15 September 2010

MaltaToday: Former Sliema mayor ‘endorses Facebook group, but not comments on Engerer’
14.9.10 by Matthew Vella

Sliema councillor Sandra Camilleri has previously expressed her annoyance at the fact that Cyrus Engerer was on the frontline of this year's gay pride march, while Nikki Dimech has stopped short of condemning homophobic statements in the Facebook group.

Former mayor Nikki Dimech’s proviso to endorse Facebook group is that he disagrees with comments against gaycouncillor.

Dimech today claimed he did not know the authors of the Facebook group, but that he “appreciated their support.”

The Facebook group ‘friends of Nikki Gelanz’ – Dimech himself says he does not know what ‘Gelanz’ means – was leading a personal campaign against gay PN councillor Cyrus Engerer.

When asked whether he endorsed the group he said he did, but he disagreed with comments made against gay councillor Cyrus Engerer, who is nominated for the post of deputy mayor of Sliema.

The group posted pictures of Engerer with his arm on the shoulder of a male friend, lifted from his own Facebook profile, and peppered it with messages of a homophobic nature. “[Is this] what Paul Borg Olivier supports for the future of Malta? Is this what our present PN adminstration supporting?

“We have nothing against gays but for sure its (sic) dangerous to have you freely do what you want/ you should have respect to the other part of the human civilisation,” the caption boldly reads.

The same caption also strangely alludes to ‘under-aged’ relationships, calling on Engerer to ‘leave under-aged boys out of [his] Facebook page.

“His sexual orientation was never an issue at council,” Dimech said.

But Dimech then claimed that Engerer’s reaction to the motion of no confidence against him was that he was trying to curry favour with the gay community, by claiming he was being targeted over his sexual orientation.

Engerer’s nomination is being challenged by a motion of no confidencesigned by Dimech and councillor Sandra Camilleri – who has taken umbrage at Engerer’s activism within the gay rights movement – three Labour councillors, and a PN councillor, Edward Cuschieri, who is being pushed for the post of deputy mayor.

Speaking from Brussels, Engerer said the councillors are targeting him “for other reasons” and not because he is inexperienced for the post.

Criticism against Engerer, only recently from former PN councillor Sandra Camilleri, shows the kind of prejudice the councillor faces.

Camilleri, 63, said Engerer should have been the one who was kicked out of the party and not Nikki Dimech because “his unchristian stand” meant he did not fit into a Christian Democrat party.

Referring to the MaltaToday interview where he was open about his views on gay rights, she said:

“... I don’t think he keeps to the ethics of the party... especially the way he took part in the gay pride parade: a front-liner kissing his partner. I mean, come on, there are gays and gays. There are nice gays but they keep a low profile, they don’t boast about it. In certain positions, I think they have to be careful.”

Engerer is an outspoken gay activist. His frontline appearance at this year’s gay pride, where he was filmed kissing his companion, brought the councillor new attention.

In an interview with MaltaToday, he said he would consider voting for Labour if the party would put full marriage equality in its manifesto, saying gay marriage “makes a big difference to me.”

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