Il-Ħadd, 31 ta’ Jannar 2010
31.1.10; minn Bernard Muscat, Malta Gay Rights Movement, Mosta
Il-kontribuzzjoni ta’ qarrej tat-TORĊA li kiteb lil Fr Colin Apap u li uża l-psewdonimu ‘Favur il-Knisja’ ħallietni kważi bla nifs. Ma naħsibx li qatt iltqajt ma’ taħlita hekk qarsa ta’ miżinformazzjoni u mibegħda kontra persuni gay.
Bħala żagħżugħ gay u attivist għad-drittijiet ugwali għal persuni leżbjani, gay, bisesswali u transgender, qed inkun akkużat li jien “saħta għall-umanità” mill-pinna tal-kontributur li pprefera jżomm ismu mistur. B’dak li kiteb, min bagħat din l-ittra qed juri li m’għandu l-ebda ħjiel dwar is-suġġett li qed jikteb dwaru.
Filwaqt li ma nikkunsidrax lili nnifsi nisrani, niftakar li dak Alla, li din il-persuna għandha tant għal qalbha, qal ħafna dwar nies ipokriti, regħba, ostili, giddieba u ħallelin - iżda qatt ma semma xejn fuq persuni li jħobbu lil xi ħadd tal-istess ġeneru tagħhom.
Possibbli li fis-sena 2010, il-kontributur - mgħammex kif inhu mill-preġudizzji li jħaddan - ma jirrealizzax li persuni gay jinsabu kullimkien fis-soċjetà u li jikkontribwixxu lejha kif tagħmel kull persuna oħra? L-unika differenza hi fl-attrazzjoni affettiva ta’ persuni gay. Filwaqt li persuni eterosesswali jsibu l-milja tagħhom f’relazzjoni ta’ mħabba ma’ persuna tas-sess oppost, persuni omosesswali jagħmlu dan f’relazzjoni ma’ persuna tal-istess sess.
Għaldaqstant nissuġġerixxi li l-kontributur jiffoka l-enerġiji tiegħu fuq nies li tassew qiegħdin ikunu ta’ piż għas-soċjetà bl-għemil tagħhom. Huma l-mibegħda, il-ksenofibija, l-omofobija, il-preġuddizju, il-vjolenza, l-isfruttament, il-fundamentaliżmu reliġjuż u ħafna affarijiet oħra li huma “saħta għall-umanità”. Huma dawn il-“pesti” li rridu neqirdu. Iżda żgur mhix l-imħabba ġenwina ta’ bejn żewġ persuni adulti li qiegħdin jgħixu ħajja deċenti ta’ mħabba mal-maħbub/a tagħhom tal-istess sess, mingħajr ma jagħtu l-ebda fastidju lil ħadd - u li jibqgħu solidi fid-dedikazzjoni tagħhom lejn xulxin minkejja l-kliem ta’ mibegħda bħal dawk ta’ min jinħeba wara psewdonimi simili.
Filwaqt li nfaħħar il-mod li bih Fr Colin tratta s-sitwazzjoni, sfortunatament l-atteġġament pożittiv tiegħu mhux daqstant komuni fil-knisja. Jien smajt b’widnejja lil saċerdot isejjaħ lil persuni gay ‘aberrazzjoni tar-razza umana’ fuq l-istazzjon nazzjonali xi snin ilu, u lkoll smajna kemm-il darba lil bosta membri tal-knisja jirreferu għal persuni gay bħala ‘midinbin’, ‘imsieken’ u ‘intrinsikament diżordinati’, fost kliem ieħor mhux xieraq.
Jien nistaqsi, kemm-il darba jrid jintqal dan il-kliem qabel nindunaw bil-ħsara li qed jagħmel kemm lin-nies li dwaru qed jintqal kif ukoll lis-soċjetà in ġenerali? Kemm iktar imħuħ debboli għandhom ikunu influwenzati biex jiktbu dak li kiteb dan il-qarrej qabel dawk responsabbli jieqfu milli jitfgħu iktar tajn u jxerrdu iktar gideb fuq minoranzi diġà storikament oppressi?
Jidher li din l-imġiba ta’ injoranza kbira qiegħda tħalli frott qares, fil-forma ta’ ittri bħal dik mibgħuta lit-TORĊA Minn mibegħda tassew tinbet iktar mibegħda.
Sunday, 31st January 2010 by Fr Joe Borg
Should President George Abela be seen but not heard, as though he were a naughty 10-year-old boy? And when he opens his mouth is he expected to echo what the government wants to say? I am no constitutional lawyer so I would rather let experts discuss that issue. But I am under the impression that he knows something about the subject and only speaks on what he knows to be within his remit.
Abela's recent address to the highly successful national conference on the family organised by the Ministry for Social Policy together with the speech he delivered last October to the international Doha colloquium held in collaboration with the Cana Movement, gives us a clear picture of his ideas on marriage and the family.
It is clear that Abela strongly favours the concept of the family as we have known it for generations. "The family is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman that can result in the procreation of children." This arrangement is based on marriage and is essential for society. It should be helped by society and the State. On both occasions, he referred to concrete proposals that should be undertaken to help strengthen family ties and marriage.
On the other hand, Abela realistically noted that even if all measures are taken to strengthen families and marriage there will be others who choose freely, or are constrained into a different kind of relationship from that of the traditional concept of family based on marriage. This "significant minority... has the right to make its own free choices and their rights should be safeguarded because they make an integral part of society."
I believe the main contribution of these two speeches is that they can help change the focus of the national discussion from divorce to the family. The fact that 800 people attended the national conference is a clear indication that the subject is close to their heart.
There are other initiatives in the offing that should help increase the momentum of this shift.
Proġett Impenn, which brings together various Church entities, is organising two other conferences. The Prime Minister and Mrs Gonzi and the opposition leader and Mrs Muscat will take part in the first conference, which is to be held on Saturday at 9.30 a.m. at the Hotel Phoenicia. It should be interesting and attract the media's attention, but I doubt the efficacy of inviting politicians to such a conference.
Of more use should be the conference to be held at the same place and time on February 13. Officials from the National Office of Statistics will provide statistics about Maltese families. Perhaps in the near future Proġett Impenn should organise another conference whereby the results of qualitative research about Maltese families is expounded and discussed. Man does not live by numbers alone, although numbers are important.
Cana is behind the organisation of an international conference on the family to be held in March, while Proġett Impenn have lined up Sir Paul Coleridge, a British High Court judge in the family division, for yet another conference to be held on May 15. That should be a conference not to miss.
Such activities should help Proġett Impenn keep to its focus as a pro-marriage (both religious and civil) advocacy group rather than let it dissipate and become (at least in the perception of many) as mainly an anti-divorce lobby group.
Sunday, 31st January 2010 by Mark Micallef
Clergymen have been invited to meetings with Joseph Muscat for a "frank exchange" on the Labour leader's political positions.
The initiative came from economist Mario Vella, an adviser to Dr Muscat, and who also heads the 'Thought and Action' think- tank within the party. He wrote to the priests telling them it would be useful to meet the person who could be leading the country in the coming years.
The meetings with the clergymen, which saw around 100 priests and Church functionaries in an exchange with the Labour leader during two meetings last month, form part of Dr Muscat's strategy to meet personally with representatives from the entire civil society.
The Church was the top priority, however. Dr Muscat has been pushing a liberal agenda on certain fronts which might see him at odds with the Church, particularly on the question of divorce - which he pledged to table in Parliament if elected Prime Minister.
On other issues, such as gay rights, he announced the setting up of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender section within the party.
One of the participants, Fr Peter Serracino Inglott, a long- time adviser to former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami, said the meeting he attended took the form of a question and answer session.
Divorce featured prominently during both sessions.
Comparing the event with a similar opportunity he had to question Dr Muscat, Fr Serracino Inglott said he felt the Labour leader had thought more deeply about issues raised by the audience.
The invitation urged those attending to "ask for explanations from Dr Muscat regarding his position on all of those things which, in your view, are crucial for the development of this society in the second decade of the 21st century and beyond."
"Like every genuine conversation, this meeting can and should lead to a free and constructive exchange of ideas which brings, participants closer to-gether even if not necessarily in agreement on everything," the letter stated.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times´ website.]
Is-Sibt, 30 ta’ Jannar 2010
The Malta Gay Rights Movement said it was misguided of President George Abela to define the family by excluding a significant minority. In what it called an open letter to the President, the movement referred to the national conference on the family, which Dr Abela addressed.
It said Dr Abela defined the family “as a man and a woman, in a life-long commitment, linked to procreation”, and emphasised the need of having a mother and a father for the family to exist. This excluded all married couples who could not have children, including childless couples, adoptive and foster parents, single parents, and cohabiting couples, the movement said, apart from gay and lesbian parents.
The President held that marriage was understood to mean the natural union of a man and a woman based on the difference between the sexes. “The implication is that a union between two people of the same sex is of course unnatural,” the movement said.
To make matters worse, it added, the President also questioned whether children adopted by same-sex couples could lead to them suffering psychological and social harm.
The movement said only one type of family was considered at the family. “All others were demonised and shot down a priori as was made evident throughout the day in the presentations, panels and interviews. It was in fact nothing more than propaganda for a conservative government’s agenda and the religious right that sits solidly behind it, present in full force,” it said.
Il-Ġimgħa, 29 ta’ Jannar 2010
The MGRM congratulates Minister Dalli on his nomination as EU Commissioner and his creditable performance in his interview with MEP’s last Thursday. However, in view of the portfolio of Health and Consumer Policy he has been assigned, MGRM would like to express its concern regarding the position Minister Dalli expressed with regards to access to health for transgendered persons. This took place during a public dialogue meeting held last December at St Margaret’s College Boys Secondary.
At this meeting Gabi Calleja on behalf of MGRM asked Minister Dalli what he was doing to ensure that health services were truly accessible to all citizens including transgender persons. She also stated that financial considerations should not be the only criterion by which decisions on access to services should be based.
Minister Dalli replied that Maltese health services are non-discriminatory and available to young, old, women, men, and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds alike. However, if someone wanted a nose job done and this was not on the list of services offered by the National Health Services, then this did not constitute discrimination.
In essence, the Minister compared hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery to a nose-job. His response was in fact out of sync with court rulings with regards to access to gender reassignment surgery for transsexuals at the European level. These include van Kück v. Germany (12 June 2003) where the court ruled there was a violation of Article 8, the Right to Private Life and held that where a health insurance plan covers "medically necessary" treatment, gender reassignment must be included and Schlumpf v. Switzerland (8 Jan. 2009) where the Court ruled also on the basis of Article 8, The Right to Private Life, that the national court should have considered an exception to the rule requiring two years of non-surgical treatment before the cost of surgery could be reimbursed.
MGRM representatives also attended the public dialogue meeting held by Minister Dolores Cristina where she was asked what was being done to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. The Minister’s response was unconvincing simply stating that bullying in schools happens for various reasons and affects other groups other than gay people and referred to PSD lessons as a means of tackling this issue.
Minister Tonio Borg was asked what was being done regarding the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive where it referred to same-sex partners. In his response the Minister failed to acknowledge that the directive was incorrectly transposed. He emphasised that only 3rd country nationals who are spouses had the right to enter Malta. This is in fact not in line with the spirit of the Directive which states that EU countries should facilitate entry of third country nationals where a durable relationship can be duly attested such as through a civil partnership obtained in another EU country. The Minister reiterated that the PN’s and one assumes, the government’s position remains that marriage was between a man and a woman. He emphasised that any cohabitation legislation that might be introduced would have the aim of acting as a basic safety net to protect the weaker party and was not intended as a validation of the relationship.
While MGRM appreciates the opportunity to pose questions to leading politicians in such public fora, the exercise was somewhat disappointing in that it confirmed the lack of a serious commitment to equality demonstrated by the present government.
L-Orizzont: L-MGRM dwar il-Konferenza Nazzjonali dwar il-Familja: Propaganda għall-aġenda ta’ Gvern Konservattiv
Il-Konferenza Nazzjonali organizzata fi tmiem il-ġimgħa li għaddiet mill-Ministeru għall-Politika Soċjali biex suppost tiddiskuti l-kunċett tal-familja Maltija fil-passat, fil-preżenti u fil-futur, ġiet fil-mira ta’ kritika mill-Malta Gay Rights Movement li ddikjara li din il-konferenza naqset għal kollox milli tittratta b’mod kritiku t-tema li ntgħażlet għaliha, ‘Il-Familja: Il-Bieraħ, Illum, Għada’.
“F’din il-konferenza kienet kkunsidrata forma waħda biss ta’ familja. Il-bqija ġew demonizzati jew imwarrbin a priori kif deher evidenti mill-preżentazzjonijiet, mill-kelliema li ħadu sehem u mill-intervisti li saru tul il-konferenza. Fil-fatt, din ma kienet xejn ħlief eżerċizzju ta’ propaganda għall-aġenda ta’ gvern konservattiv,” ikkummentat Gabi Calleja f’ittra miftuħa indirizzata lill-President ta’ Malta, Dr George Abela u lis-Segretarju Permanenti fil-Ministeru għall-Politika Soċjali, Frans Borg.
Hija spjegat li l-ewwel minn sensiela ta’ dikjarazzjonijiet żbaljati li saru tul il-konferenza kienet dik tal-President Abela meta bid-definizzjoni dejqa li ta tal-familja eskluda minorità sinifikanti ta’ familji. Il-familja kienet definita bħala impenn għat-tul tal-ħajja bejn raġel u mara marbut mal-prokreazzjoni. Il-President għamel ukoll enfasi fuq il-ħtieġa ta’ kemm tal-omm kif ukoll tal-missier biex familja tkun tassew teżisti.
“B’hekk, b’mod intenzjonat jew le, il-President Abela eskluda lill-koppji miżżewġin kollha li ma jistax ikollhom tfal, inklużi koppji mingħajr tfal, ġenituri adottivi u foster parents; familji b’ġenitur wieħed; koppji li jikkoabitaw u t-tfal li dawn jista’ jkollhom; u s’intendi ġenituri gay u lisbjani”, spjegat il-kelliema tal-MGRM.
Hi kompliet tgħid li meta għadda biex jispjega id-definizzjoni taż-żwieġ fil-liġi Maltija, l-President Abela qal li huwa evidenti li din għandha tfisser unjoni naturali bejn mara u raġel bbażata fuq id-differenzi bejn is-sessi. “L-implikazzjoni ta’ tifsira bħal din hija li unjoni bejn żewġ persuni tal-istess sess s’intendi mhix waħda naturali. Li wieħed jibqa’ marbut ma’ din il-fehma jfisser in-nuqqas ta’ għarfien li, waqt li sa madwar erbgħin sena ilu l-omosesswalità kienet meqjusa bħala xi ħaġa kontra n-natura u bħala marda mentali, ix-xjenza u r-riċerka għallmuna li dan mhux il-każ”.
Gabi Calleja saħqet li llum il-ġurnata mhemmx dubju li l-omosesswalità mhix ħlief varjant naturali u normali tan-natura umana u ta’ speċi oħrajn. Waqt li hemm ħafna pajjiżi li naqsu li jimxu fuq dan l-għarfien u għadhom jitrattaw l-omosesswalità bħala reat kriminali, l-MGRM għandu l-impressjoni li kif għamlu pajjiżi oħrajn tal-Punent, Malta m’għadhiex tħares lejn l-omosesswalità b’din il-lenti.
Saret ukoll kritika għall-fatt li l-President Abela staqsa wkoll jekk tfal adottati minn koppji tal-istess sess jistgħux jispiċċaw isofru minn ħsara psikoloġika u soċjali. Intqal li l-President Abela hawn ukoll għoġbu jinjora r-riċerka li saret dwar dan il-qasam li b’mod ċar jindika li l-orjentament sesswali tal-ġenituri m’għandu l-ebda effett fuq l-iżvilupp tat-tfal.
“L-importanti huma l-kwalitajiet tal-ġenituri, bħalma hija l-imħabba, l-impenn, ir-responsabbiltà u l-abiltà tagħhom li jipprovdu għall-ħtiġijiet tat-tfal. Li tissuġġerixxi li l-fatt sempliċi li wieħed jew waħda jkun gay jew lisbjana tista’ tikkawża ħsara lit-tfal huwa redikolu daqs meta tiddikjara li t-tfal ma jsofru l-ebda ħsara jekk min jieħu ħsiebhom jin zerta li hu eterosesswali”, qalet Gabi.
Kompliet tgħid li kien ukoll punt debboli d-domanda li saret dwar jekk unjoni bejn persuni tal-istess sess tistax tissejjaħ żwieġ. Dan billi żwieġ simili diġa’ jeżisti f’għadd ta’ pajjiżi membri tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa, bħall-Olanda, l-Isvezja, in-Norverġja, il-Belġjum u Spanja. “Għalhekk il-kwistjoni mhijiex waħda ta’ definizzjoni iżda waħda ta’ preġudizzju u diskriminazzjoni, f’min nagħżlu li ninkludu jew neskludu bħala soċjetà u fuq il-bażi ta’ xhiex nagħmlu dan”.
Intqal ukoll li tul il-konferenza, il-mixja lejn is-sekulariżmu kienet deskritta bħala theddida għall-familja biex b’mod indirett jasal il-messaġġ li kull min ma jħaddanx it-twemmin Kattoliku huwa kompletament nieqes minn kull forma ta’ valuri, jew l-aktar, jista’ biss iħadden sett ta’ valuri inferjuri. “Imbasta ngħidu ħafna dwar is-separazzjoni bejn Knisja u Stat, u nishqu fuq id-Drittijiet Universali tal-Bniedem!”, saħqet Gabi Calleja.
Hija rriferiet ukoll għall-fatt li tul l-istess konferenza, l-ġenituri kollha separati jew li mhumiex miżżewġin, ġew ippreżentati bħala nies egoisti u rresponsabbli, li jiġru ma’ sieħeb sesswali wara l-ieħor mingħajr ma jagħtu każ ta’ uliedhom, waqt li t-tfal kollha li l-ġenituri tagħhom sseparaw ġew ippreżentati bħala trawmatizzati mingħajr fejqan; u li l-għadd akbar ta’ tfal bil-kundizzjoni ADHA huwa sempliċiment riżultat ta’ nuqqas ta’ imħabba mill-ġenituri.
Intqal ukoll li l-introduzzjoni tad-divorzju f’Malta twassal biex wieħed jibda jħares lejn il-kunċett taż-żwieġ bħala rabta ċoff li faċilment tinħall mal-ewwel intopp. “Insa l-fatt li s-soċjetà Maltija ma tgħix f’bozza protetta mill-bqija tad-dinja u l-kunċett tad-divorzju huwa magħna biex jibqa’, jew ir-realtà kontroversjali li wieħed irid ikollu l-mezzi biex jiksbu f’qorti barranija”, temmet tgħid Gabi Calleja.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement is objecting to President George Abela's narrow definition of marriage, which it believes excludes a "significant majority".
In an open letter to Dr Abela, MGRM referred to his definition of the family as a man and a woman, in a life-long commitment, linked to procreation. Addressing a national conference on the family last Saturday, he also emphasised the need for both a mother and a father for a family to exist.
"Whether intentionally or not, he excluded all those married couples who could not have children, including childless couples, adoptive parents, foster parents, single parents, cohabiting couples and any children they might have, and, of course, gay and lesbian parents," the movement said.
Asked for its reaction, the President's Office said: "The speech is available publicly and, as a public text, it is subject to whatever interpretation anybody who reads it might attribute to it. There is, therefore, nothing to add to what has been in the public domain for the past four days."
MGRM said in explaining the understanding of marriage in Maltese law, the President held that this was understood to mean the natural union of a man and a woman based on the difference between the sexes.
"The implication is that a union between two people of the same sex is, of course, unnatural. Clinging to this 'understanding' is a failure to acknowledge that, while up to 40 or so odd years ago homosexuality was deemed unnatural and a mental illness, science and research have taught us this is not the case," it said.
"Homosexuality is simply a natural and normal variant in human nature as well as in other species. While there are plenty of countries that have failed to take on this knowledge and continue to criminalise homosexuality, we were under the impression that, in line with other Western nations, Malta had actually moved on."
MGRM said in its letter, also addressed to the permanent secretary at the Social Policy Ministry, Frans Borg, that, to "make matters worse", the President also questioned whether children adopted by same-sex couples could lead to them suffering psychological and social harm.
It said it was parenting qualities such as love, commitment, responsibility and the ability to provide for the needs of the child that mattered.
To suggest that by simply being gay or lesbian caused harm to children was "as ridiculous as stating that no harm will befall children if their carer happens to be heterosexual".
MGRM lamented that throughout the conference, the move towards secularisation was touted as a threat to the family. The underlying message was that anyone not subscribing to Catholicism was completely lacking in any form of value system or, at most, could only hold an inferior set of values.
All unmarried and separated parents were presented as selfish and irresponsible, parading one sexual partner after another with no thought to their children; all children whose parents had undergone a separation were presented as irremediably traumatised; the increased diagnoses of attention deficit disorders in children simply the result of unloving parents.
It said the introduction of divorce in Malta would unequivocally lead to the conceptualisation of marriage as a loose knot that could be easily untied at the first hurdle.
It felt the conference failed entirely to critically engage the subject matter its title portrayed: there was only one family being considered and all others were demonised and shot down.
MGRM said the conference was nothing more than "propaganda for a conservative government's agenda" and the religious right that sat solidly behind it.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website. More comments are available here.]
27.1.10 minn Godfrey Galea, MOVE Progressive Students
Dwar l-importanza tal-familja kulħadd jaqbel. Il-problema saret: liema hi familja u liema mhiex? Biex tipprova twieġeb din il-mistoq sija, wieħed irid ikun kapaċi jinqata’ ftit minn dak kollu li mhux realistiku u li jkun jibbaża biss fuq ħolm idealistiku u jifhem li dawn il-mistoqsijiet tista’ tweġibhom biss meta tkun onest miegħek innifsek.
Spiċċa ż -żmien li noqogħdu naħarbu realtajiet ġodda li qegħdin insibu ma’ wiċċna llum. Bis-sit wazzjoni preżenti nsibu diversi nies li b’xi mod jew ieħor qegħdin ibatu u qegħdin jiġu ddiskriminati b’xi mod jew ieħor, tant li dawn ma’ jistgħux la jiżżewġu u lanqas ma jista’ jkol lhom familja.
L-ewwel fuq il-lista nsibu dawk li għal xi raġuni jew oħra fallielhom l-ewwel żwieġ tagħ hom. Dawn in-nies ma jingħatal homx id-dritt li jiżżewġu darb’ oħra. Hi tal-mistħija kif pajjiżna hu wieħed mill-uniċi żewġ pajjiżi fid-dinja li fihom, bniedem li fallielu ż-żwieġ ma jingħatalux ċans ieħor. Tiskanta bil-kbir me ta tirrealizza li dawn in-nies qis hom qegħdin jiġu ttrattati bħal li kieku wettqu xi reat gravissimu! Dan id-dritt jiġi mogħti meta jidħol id-divorzju f’paj jiż na.
Skont il-Gvern preżenti d-divorzju se jkisser il-familji. Id-divorzju jagħti ċans ġdid għall-ħolqien ta’ familji ġodda. Issaħħaħ il-familji meta twassal lill-għarajjes b’saħħithom għaż-żwieġ u billi jkollhom soċjetà soda u tajba madwarhom u mhux billi ma taċċettax id-divor zju.
Mhux id-divorzju li jkissirha koppja iżda huma ċertu piżijiet li jkollhom iġorru u li ma jkunux jifilħu għalihom. L-ewwel fost l-oħrajn hemm l-inċertezza tax-xogħol. Warajh insibu l-għoli tal-ħajja. Wara dawn il-problemi prinċipali hemm oħrajn li huma ta’ piż indirett. Ibda minn mentalità fost il-familji li jibżgħu jibagħtu lil uliedhom fi skola tal-Gvern għax ma jemmnux fiha. Ma nidħolx fil-mertu ta’ jekk il-biżgħat ta’ dawn il-koppji hum iex ġustifikabbli jew le imma li hu żgur hu li f’dan il-każ il-Gvern għandu jserraħ ras il-ġenituri u jtejjeb fejn hemm bżonn l-iskejjel tagħna. U fl-aħħar ma nistgħux ninsew il-piżijiet li jġibu l-problemi tas-saħħa u l-ispejjeż ta’ ope razzjonijiet li l-Isptar tal-Gvern idewmek tistenna, tant li jkollok bil-fors tavviċina lill-privat. Dawn il-piżijiet, kollha kemm huma jaffettwaw lill-familji u jnaqqsulhom l-istabbilità tant meħtieġa u jwasslu għal ħafna koppji biex jisseparaw.
Jekk nipprovaw ngħelbu dawn il-problemi u l-ineffiċjenzi, il-familji jgawdu, jgħaddu minn inqas tensjonijiet u b’hekk ifallu inqas. B’danakollu xorta waħda se jifdal familji li, sfortunatament, se jispiċċaw jitħassru u f’dawn il-każijiet hu importanti li dawn in-nies inkunu hemm għalihom biex ngħinuhom jibdew mill-ġdid ħalli l-familja l-ġdida tkun soda iżjed mill-ewwel waħda u tirnexxi. Hemm hekk, bħala pajjiż, ikollna biex niftaħru.
Ħafna koppji, illum, spiċċaw biex jgħixu flimkien mingħajr ma jkunu miżżewġin. Dan iwassal biex ikollna familji ġodda li l-istat anqas jirrikonoxxi. Eluf ta’ koppji llum jgħixu flimkien u anke jrabbu familji sħaħ u m’humiex taħt il-kappa taż-żwieġ jew taħt xi forma ta’ rikonoxximent legali ieħor.
Dan jista’ jwassal għal diversi problemi legali u soċjali. Il-problemi legali nħalluhom f’idejn l-avukati u l-esperti biex ikomplu jinfurmawna dwar l-inġustizzji li dawn in-nies jista’ jkun qegħdin isofru. Dwar il-problemi soċjali biżżejjed insemmu x’tebgħa kerha ġġorr magħha l-kelma tpoġġi. Ejja naqtgħuha darba għal dejjem u naċċettaw li l-poġġuti m’huma xejn għajr koppji normali li għal raġunijiet li mhumiex biċċa tiegħi li nkun naf, qegħdin jgħixu ħajja ddiskriminata u diffiċli u dan jgħodd b’mod speċjali għat-tfal li jitrabbew f’dawn il-familji.
It-Tlieta, 26 ta’ Jannar 2010
The first address of the day was delivered by President George Abela. One of his first misguided statements was a definition of family that was so narrow as to exclude a significant minority. Dr Abela defined the family as a man and a woman, in a life-long commitment, linked to procreation. He also emphasised the need for both the need of a mother and a father for the family to exist. Whether intentionally or not, he therefore excluded all those married couples who could not have children including childless couples, adoptive parents and foster parents; single parents; cohabiting couples and any children they might have; and of course gay and lesbian parents.
On explaining the understanding of marriage in Maltese law the president held that this was understood to mean the natural union of a man and a woman based on the difference between the sexes. The implication is that a union between two people of the same sex is of course unnatural. Clinging to this ‘understanding’ is a failure to acknowledge that, while up to forty or so odd years ago homosexuality was deemed unnatural and a mental illness, science and research have taught us that this is not the case. Homosexuality is simply a natural and normal variant in human nature as well as in other species. While there are plenty of Countries that have failed to take on this knowledge and continue to criminalise homosexuality, we were under the impression that in line with other Western nations, Malta had actually moved on.
To make matters worse the President also questioned whether children adopted by same-sex couples could lead to them suffering psychological and social harm. The President seems to once again have ignored research in this area which clearly indicates that the sexual orientation of parents has no bearing on the development of children. It is parenting qualities such as love, commitment, responsibility and the ability to provide for the needs of the child that matter. To suggest that simply for the fact of being gay or lesbian one causes harm to children is as ridiculous as stating that no harm will befall children if their carer happens to be heterosexual.
His question of whether same-sex unions could possibly be called marriage is surely a moot point, since this is already the case in at least five Council of Europe Member States, namely Holland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Spain. The question is not therefore a matter of definition but of prejudice and discrimination, that is, who we choose to include or exclude as a society and on what basis.
Throughout the conference, the move towards secularisation was touted as a threat to the family with the underlying message being that anyone not subscribing to Catholicism was completely lacking in any form of value system, or at the most, could only hold an inferior set of values. So much for the separation of Church and State and the notion of Universal Human Rights!
All unmarried and separated parents were presented as selfish and irresponsible, parading one sexual partner after another with no thought to their children; all children whose parents had undergone separation were presented as irremediably traumatised; the increased diagnoses of ADHD in children simply the result of unloving parents.
The introduction of divorce in Malta would unequivocally lead to the conceptualisation of marriage as a loose knot that could be easily untied at the first hurdle. Forget the fact that Maltese society does not live in a bubble protected from the wider World and that the concept of divorce is with us to stay or the even more contentious reality that one only has to have the means to access it through a foreign court.
The conference failed entirely to engage critically the subject matter its title portrayed. There was only one family being considered. All others were demonised and shot down a priori as was made evident throughout the day in the presentations, panels and interviews. It was in fact nothing more than propaganda for a conservative government’s agenda and the religious right that sits solidly behind it, present in full force.
Is Joseph Muscat’s rainbow coalition of progressives and moderates, to be given life in a 44-point ‘programmatic motion’ (read manifesto) another one-man show like GonziPN?
Labour is not reinventing the wheel when it presents itself to voters as a “coalition” – it was the former PN (and most industrious of all) secretary-general Joe Saliba who back in 2007 declared the PN as a “coalition of people from all walks of life”, and that the party “will fail and lose the election, when this coalition breaks up.”
Saliba’s stark realisation that the PN’s coalition could break up had in fact contributed to the strategy re-think inside the PN, which led the party to contest the 2008 election under the ‘GonziPN’ banner: the premise that the leader could attract voters who no longer identify themselves with the party.
The electorate was regaled with the spectacle of a one-man show which ultimately proved successful in keeping Lawrence Gonzi in power. But Gonzi was soon to find out that he had an unstable coalition of core loyalists and a coterie of upstarts and disgruntled backbenchers, who for different reasons question the centralisation of power in the hands of the leader. And as we saw in the Franco Debono episode, the vote cast by the Speaker before parliament’s Christmas recess killed once and for all the myth that the Maltese two-party system was tightly water-proofed against political instability. In reality it showed how one single MP could bring the whole edifice down.
Joseph Muscat’s “movement of moderates and progressives” – a marketing brand he invented during his party’s leadership contest – might well be his own way of strengthening his leadership by presenting himself as the leader of a coalition which is even greater than the party.
Since the movement is an informal, conceptual offshoot (and not a statutory organ of the PL) Muscat might well be emulating Gonzi in building his own parallel power base in a way that it is not limited to internal party structures.
It could be no sheer coincidence that the new movement of moderates and progressives is being launched in the same general conference that will also be asked to abolish the post of secretary-general: a move that will eliminate a potential, rival power base within the party. Muscat will keep his hand-picked CEO, an apparatchik in the form of James Piscopo.
There could be a silver lining in all this. By presenting himself as the leader of a movement transcending Labour’s traditional confines, Muscat’s attempts to push forward a progressive agenda will not be hampered by inner party wrangling
But this begs the question: what is so irresistibly progressive about this virtual movement whose identity is being forged by a sort of manifesto – dubbed a ‘programmatic motion’ – that lists 44 principles which are set to be approved by the Labour Party’s conference?
Prog-rocking the conference
One suspects that by appealing to both progressives and moderates – two apparently contradictory terms – Labour is simply saying that everyone can feel part of the brand new movement. For who isn’t progressive or moderate in some way or another? Even UK Tory leader David Cameron recently appropriated the ‘P’ word.
Look at the origin of the catchphrase – progressives and moderates were, respectively, the Muscat and George Abela avant-garde in the Labour leadership elections. When Muscat won, he sought to take both camps under his rainbow umbrella.
But the greatest proof that Labour doesn’t want to irk anyone is the absence of a formal rejection of racism and xenophobia in the 44 principles treasured by moderates and progressives.
The motion pays lip service to secular values by identifying those who believe that the “state should not interfere in the private life of individuals” and those who believe in “the respect for diversity of opinions and orientations” among the potential allies of the PL.
At the same time, the new movement is wide open to those “who treasure the fundamental values of Maltese and Gozitans”, whatever these might be.
The movement is open to all those who value unspecified “civil rights” – but no direct reference is made to divorce or gay marriages or civil unions.
Pandering to economic liberals, the motion refers to private enterprise as “the principle engine of the Maltese economy” and calls for “responsible tax cuts” as a “strong and effective incentive for growth”.
Significantly absent from the 44 founding principles of this coalition is any reference to the redistribution of wealth through taxation, even if the motion does reiterate the left’s traditional commitment to free healthcare, the abolition of poverty and improved public and social services. How Labour plans to balance its commitment to lower taxes and spend more on health and public services remains a mystery.
Surely funds could be saved by cutting on the public sector’s pork barrel spending. But will this be enough to compensate for the loss in tax revenue and the rise in health and welfare costs brought about by the changing demography?
What distinguishes Labour’s motion from the PN’s astute strategy which was presented to the electorate as a fait accompli is its intellectual honesty. And vanity. The ‘programmatic motion’ – a term reminiscent of stuffy Marxist meetings – frankly admits that Labour may not be able to win on its own steam because a number of “moderates, progressives and political liberals are not yet prepared to adhere to the Labour Party because of their roots, experiences and cultural orientation.”
The motion also warns that a growing section of the population is losing its trust in the political system and is now more willing to vote for “marginal parties”, or not vote at all.
But instead of calling for changes in the electoral system that would recognise the new dynamism and pluralism of Maltese society, and finally make it possible for new parties to get representation in parliament and possible participation in real coalitions, Muscat is proposing a single-party coalition with an anonymous mass of so-called moderates and progressives.
Ultimately, it could be the perfect recipe for zero-sum politics: because the opposite sides of the coalition equation tend to cancel each other out, making the prospect of change very unlikely. Liberal voters might well end up voting for Muscat’s “movement of moderates and progressives” under the impression that it will introduce divorce, for example, only to find out that despite Muscat’s election as Prime Minister he still lacks a parliamentary majority for its introduction. Perhaps the moderates will take the blame.
Ultimately the movement for progressives and moderates will remain what it is – a propagandistic construct, because when election time comes, nobody will be voting for it. Voters won’t be voting for abstract coalitions, but for single MPs whose loyalty is towards their party and constituents.
By basing his coalition on vague, half-baked and contradictory messages, Muscat might well be sowing the seeds of discord in a future Labour government. Just as Gonzi did before him in the last general election.
It-Tnejn, 25 ta’ Jannar 2010
Is-Sibt, 23 ta’ Jannar 2010
The Family Law should be updated and the national family policy published for there to be a clear definition of what is meant by family and marriage, President George Abela said this morning.
Speaking during the National Conference on the Family, organised by the Social Policy Ministry, President Abela said the concept of family was permanent and transcended the changes in society. Marriage was a commitment between a man and a woman which sometimes resulted in the procreation of new individuals.
Marriage, he said, needed to be supported to remain strong. Everyone had the right to a family life to develop their social emotional and cultural abilities to live in society.
Although one’s decision to get married was private one, its impact was on all society. A marriage was not a simple contract between two people but also included the concept of a family which was reflected in the law.
Times had changed and the authority within the family was no longer limited to the man but there was a greater reflection of equality, the President said.
The family existed before the state because it was something natural and the state could only regulate several aspects and offer protection. A family was independent from the state when it came to the transmissions of values and it was up to individual families to see which values were passed on to children. The state did not have a right to interfere in this, he said.
Although other countries allowed different types of unions between people of the same sex, could these unions be called a family, the President asked.
He added that this did not mean that the law could not provide for these people but could such a union be called of marriage?
On the adoption of children by gay couples, he asked if this would be a natural family model for the children.
He spoke about problems modern couples went through because of financial demands and women’s independence, including financial. Families postponed the decision to have children, the number of single parent households and couples cohabiting increased and the taboo against these no longer existed.
The President said that the concept of long term commitment towards the family was slowly being eroded and action had to be taken for this to be stopped.
Even though families were still strong and flexible because they managed to adapt to how times were changing, more support was needed because of the severe repercussions that were caused by each breakdown.
University lecturer Angela Abela said that times were changing fast and many concepts, such as divorce, abortion and cohabitation, that were not so accepted before were becoming more popular.
Because of this, there was a need to start working more on existing problems. Marriage, she said, was a very important institution but according to the 2005 census 5.65 per cent of people said they were separated.
However, the Maltese as a population still believed in long lasting relationships, a concept that was being lost in other countries.
In the census, she said, around 5,000 people said they were in a stable relationship but could not get married. Divorce would give these couples the chance to marry again. The subject, Dr Abela said, should not be discussed in a polarised way but as a way of giving these people the right to marry again.
Dr Abela said that it would be wrong to focus on divorce as a way out of marriage. But if separations continued to increase, one had to see what kind of commitment people in such a situation could be offered. The children of separated parents, for example would be able to have another parental figure in their life.
She said that it was no longer a taboo for women not to get married and become spinsters but 95 per cent of young women wanted to get married. 57 per cent were in favour of divorce and were afraid of marriage because they did not want to get caught in it.
Dr Abela said that in the past five years, one of every four babies was born outside marriage with 24 per cent of these babies born to teenage mothers. She asked whether action could have been taken to pre-empt this and said that certain action, such as the publication and implementation of the sexual health policy, could be taken right away.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website. See more comments here.]
Il-Ġimgħa, 22 ta’ Jannar 2010
Pope Benedict XVI has once again talked about the perils of homosexuality to humanity (timesofmalta.com, January 11) while referring to the introduction of gay marriage in Portugal in the coming months. The Pope will be in Malta in April, for a visit which, according to the Prime Minister's Christmas speech, will unite the whole country. I like to see our polarised country united yet I am not rejoicing at the Pope's visit.
On October 1, 1986, when the Pope (then Josef Ratzinger) was Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, he sent a letter to all bishops saying that it was understandable that violent crimes against gays increase, if the state awards them more civil rights.
It was equally sad to read some of the posted comments on timesofmalta.com - comments that generally mean that the introduction of gay marriage or civil partnership would bring about the end of the world.
One year on from my excommunication from the Catholic Church, I am even more convinced that gay people have no place in this organisation especially under the current Pope. Archbishop Paul Cremona (The Sunday Times, January 10) doesn't see non-believers or people of a different sexuality as a threat. It's a shame that Mgr Cremona's wise words, compassion and humility as a great bridge-builder, is thwarted by a man who is obsessed about the evils of homosexuality.
The civil rights I am talking about are the right for a man to visit his gay partner in hospital and take medical decisions in case of an emergency. The right to take urgent family-leave from work to take care of a seriously ill partner; the right to take bereavement leave from work when your partner dies; immigration rights for people who want to marry a partner who is not an EU citizen. These rights do not in any way harm the institution of marriage.
I also get the impression that the current Administration is not keen on awarding any rights and maybe they think it's better for gay people to emigrate and go to other European cities.
I think this is a huge mistake and a big loss for Malta not only for the artistic talent but for all other professional areas too. Other countries will take advantage of the excellent Maltese education invested in the gay Maltese population.
I hope that the Prime Minister will one day wake up and listen to the forgotten people and won't see us as a threat to the country. I wish for the dawning of a day when different people of different beliefs and sexual orientations can live in harmony as citizens with equal rights.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
It-Tlieta, 19 ta’ Jannar 2010
17.1.10 Minn Fr Colin Apap
• Bħalma taf ninsabu f’nofs battalja bejn it-tajjeb u l-ħażin. Jew inti ma’ naħa jew mal-oħra. Ma tistax tkun newtrali jew fin-nofs. Ma tistax tkun kif ngħidu “ne’ pesce ne’ carne”. Inti tappartjeni għall-Knisja Kattolika li bħalma taf minn dejjem kienet kontra l-omosesswali u tikkun danna hom. Inti taf li l-Kelma t’Alla stess tikkundanna lill-omo -sesswali għall-infern ta’ dejjem għax iridu jeqirdu bl-għemil ħażin tagħhom lill-umanità.
Jekk inħalluhom jirbħu nkunu qiegħdin norbtu ma’ għonqna u ma’ għonq uliedna l-pjaga tal-infertilità. Il-ġeneru uman jinqered. Imma anki l-Knisja Kattolika tinqered jekk inħallu hom jirbħu.
L-omosesswali huma s-saħta tal-umanità u inti bħala qassis trid tingħaqad magħna biex neqirdu din il-pesta ta’ mad warna.
Għadni qatt ma qrajt li widdibt lin-nies kontra l-omosesswali, allura nifhem li inti m’intix qassis tal-Knisja Kattolika?
Nittama li tippubblika din l-ittra u tweġibni.
L-injoranza hija l-ikbar dnub
• Din hija “hate mail” u nip preferi nistmaha talli hi ž nar miha fid-“dustbin”.
Kull min jagħwi lin-nies biex joħloq “moral panic” kontra ka tegorija partikolari ta’ nies f’mi noranzi jkun jikser il-liġi tal-paj jiż u għandu jkun ikkastigat.
Ittra bħal tiegħek tmur kontra l-verità, kontra d-dinjità tal-bnie dem, kontra kull valur nis rani li jiena u l-Knisja Kat tolika li nagħmel parti minnha ngħal lmu lill-bnedmin ta’ rieda tajba. Mhux veru li l-Knisja hija kontra l-omosesswali.
Mhux veru li l-Iskrittura te ħod ha kontra l-omosesswali.
Mhux veru li t-tagħlim tal-Knisja ta’ Kristu jgħallem xi ħaġa kontra l-omosesswali.
Diskriminazzjoni bbażata fuq l-orjentament sesswali ta’ indi vidwu, razza, kulur tal-ġilda huma, u minn dejjem kienu, kontra t-tagħlim awtentiku tal-Knisja Kattolika.
Dan ma jfissirx li fil-Knisja Kattolika, bħal fis-soċjetà, ma ssibx nies bħalek li jaħsbu u jużaw il-Knisja Kattolika biex ikomplu jxerrdu l-mibegħda, id-diskriminazzjoni, il-biża’ kontra l-minoranzi! “Hate language” bħalma użajt inti għandha tit waqqaf...
Ippubblikajtlek l-ittra biex il-qarrejja tat-TORĊA jkunu dej jem iżjed konxji x’tip ta’ reliġjon hawn min jipproponi. Tagħrif żbaljat dwar il-Kelma t’Alla, dwar forom letterarji, interpre tazzjoni ta’ kulturi u kuntesti, u tagħrif ta’ kittieba u għal liema udjenza nkitbu u f’liema żmini jiet marbuta ma’ livell ta’ xjenza ta’ dak iż-żmien.
Imma l-preġudizzji, l-ideo -loġiji u l-mibegħda m’għand hom la limitu u l-anqas re - liġjon!
L-injoranza hija l-ikbar dnub.
It-Tnejn, 18 ta’ Jannar 2010
We refer to the letter by Paul Kokoski entitled No evolution of marriage (TMID, 5 January).
Mr Kokoski bases his whole argument on incorrect statements and misinterpretations of history.
Mr Kokoski claims that “marriage is an institution that predates civilisation”. The very fact that he refers to marriage as an “institution” implies that it is a product of civil or organised societies. He puts forward his own very conservative Christian view of what marriage ought to be by limiting it only to one man and one woman who must do nothing else but produce babies.
His definition excludes polygamous marriages such as those entered into by Muslim men and women. Polygamous relationships have also occurred in various Asian societies and even the Canadian Arctic. Not to mention that the ancient Roman society he holds in high esteem also had the custom of several men sharing the same woman. Therefore – contrary to what he claims – marriage has been, and still continues to be, redefined by the trends and needs of society at a given time. Marriage evolves according to the nature of the human relationships occurring within a particular society.
The fact that the Bible condemns homosexual acts is one example in many that the Bible was written by humans who at times mistook God’s word for their own. Slavery and incest are accepted in the Bible too, and it is unquestionably a product of the times it was written, as is anything the Bible says about homosexuality and to a large extent the role of women in society.
Homosexuality is simply part of human nature and human behaviour, and whether there exists a “gay gene” or not is irrelevant. There was never any evidence of the “straight gene” either.
Mr Kokoski’s amateur attempt at contributing to the world of psychology by thoughtlessly claiming that the psychological problems of children born in the 1970s and 80s are a direct product of divorce and birth out of wedlock is offensive to all involved – single mothers, children, distant loving fathers and not to mention psychologists. If the union between a mother and father is no longer a loving one, many couples opt to separate out of love for their children rather than the other way round. Children are emotional sponges and if there is one role to get right as a parent is to surround children with happiness, not misery.
An equally frivolous statement is “once legal the state’s coercive power will punish those who refuse to embrace gay marriages”. Perhaps Mr Kokoski is confusing the terms “freedom” and “punishment”. By allowing marriage equality, the law is merely recognising one’s right to a private and family life, rights which are fundamental in their nature and which are inherent to all human beings.
Contrary to what Mr Kokoski claims, when the law does not allow marriage equality it is punishing the individual because of his or her sexual orientation; it is depriving individuals of their fundamental rights.
The term “punishment” implies deprivation. How is the public official being deprived of anything if he is officiating at a same-sex marriage?
Claiming that the only main function of marriage is procreation undermines its very purpose. In today’s society people get married because they are in love and they want to love each other, irrespective of whether they can have children or not. And in today’s society some people also get married with the intention of never having children. Has this never occurred to Mr Kokoski? According to statistics published by the NSO, in 2008 a total of 76 brides got married at the age of 50 and over. It would be naïve to expect these unions to produce offspring, but their marriages are no less valid because of this.
On a final note, public morality is indeed a most important issue and so we should ask ourselves what is public morality in regards to homosexuality if not merely the difference between acceptance and tolerance. Tolerance suggests a position of an undefined superiority as opposed to acceptance which suggests an easier attitude of live and let live. Gay, lesbians and transgender persons are not asking for special treatment in regards to public morality. If heterosexuals couples are not allowed to hold hands in the street then homosexuals should not be either, but if straight couples are allowed to show affection in public, then so should everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation.
17.1.10? by David Carabott
Maltese society is changing at a fast rate, and it is not always easy for those who believe in the traditional, nuclear family, to accept or understand the changes. David Carabott takes a deeper look into these changes and their implications.
Maltese society is changing at a fast rate, and it is not always easy for those who believe in the traditional, nuclear family, to accept or understand the changes. David Carabott takes a deeper look into these changes and their implications
During my time as a student it was always purported that the Maltese islands are a complex and heterogeneous society, a description about which I remain truly sceptical.
Since I was a teenager, I have witnessed an increase in the evolution of the family structure, from the conventional or traditional family to “new” family structures. It is the latter that are gradually changing the status quo of tradition. It is this tradition that Diderot believed was dangerous to freedom; he thought that in order to enhance human freedoms in society, society needed to be open and tolerant of each individual’s chosen route to happiness. This happiness, according to Diderot, would defend society against tyrannical authorities who sought to infringe upon society’s right to revolution in the face of social oppression.
The tradition of the “traditional” family has changed dramatically over the years, and single parents are becoming more common, separated couples are becoming a part of the norm. Tradition, still at the core of the Maltese community, depicts separation and single parenthood as taboo. The model of the nuclear (traditional) family has been adjusted, amended and reconstructed to respond to real life issues, personal freedoms and personal responsibilities and as a result has become antiquated for our rights-driven world where choice is central. As proven through sociological theory, families become fragmented mainly due to distance, but Malta is small, and, therefore, it allows our society to remain closely knit.
Then, there is the middle class family, which struggles to make ends meet. Karl Marx once said that the middle class is diminishing and is drawing closer to the working class. Now, the middle class is not falling into the working classes, but the upper middle is moving to become the new lower middle class. The lower middle may just be an adjusted lower middle class or maybe the working poor, but it will be a temporary shift, different from Marx, who saw it as more systematic.
Changes to the traditional family, and introduction of new norms have also produced a “younger” generation that is more secular. Certainly, they are apathetic to politics because of the rejection of many of the traditionalist arguments, which they do not see as relevant.
Women’s role in society is still marginal and out of step with the rest of Western Europe. They remain sidelined in society, but for how much longer? Statistics are clearly showing that the majority of University students are female, but this will be arbitrary unless they receive the opportunities required for a future of parity.
Single parent families have been increasing with each passing year. Single parent families can be attributed either to marital breakdowns or births outside marriage. Alternatively, there are those individuals who become a single-parent family through choice either by adopting or fostering a child.
In the last decades we have seen a considerable increase in the number of people opting for a civil marriage. This has also changed the social landscape. Those who opt to cohabitate or those who prefer “to tie the knot” through civil means instead of the usual religious matrimony are not being considered “sinners” any longer. It’s true that people are coming to terms with this, but what about the government’s allowances towards cohabitating couples and their eventual offspring?
Some of the main reasons for the increase in cohabitation in the Maltese islands are: couples are opting to live together rather than getting married for several reasons such as financial burden, while others have no other choice but to cohabitate as divorce does not yet exist in Malta, one of two countries without some type of divorce recognition. Moreover until the 1970s homosexual acts were still considered a crime and in this day and age same-sex partnerships are still not recognised by the law.
An interesting fact about marriages in Malta is that, in the 1980s, many Maltese women were marrying North Africans. Some of these men became engaged and married to Maltese women just for the sake of obtaining a Maltese (European) passport. To control the situation, the government of Malta introduced a clause that a passport or an identity card issued to a foreign person married to another of Maltese nationality should be given only after five years of marriage. Since many countries in Europe/world have this same stipulation, should we be asking whether this five-year wait is wrong and is depriving people of their human rights?
Eventually bureaucracy treats both right and wrong the same way, and policies do not differentiate between one person and another. “Mal-hazin jehel it-tajjeb” (“everyone ends up in the same boat”) we say in Maltese!
When Malta is compared to other European countries, it is still way behind in its recognition of different families. The authorities have not yet acknowledged some of the “other” types of families that now exist in the modern social landscape.
Change in Malta comes slowly and, as a consequence, many people suffer from discrimination or are not tolerated because they are considered “different” or “deviant”. This is not the appropriate way to “behave” in a democratic society. Because of these attitudes towards those who we perceive to be different, frustration and apprehension are felt and seen among many levels of Maltese society.
I consider myself a liberal person and personally cannot agree with the majority of the population. On the other hand I can understand that everyone is free to have an opinion, it’s the people who elect politicians, and politicians carry out their will. How many political parties would have the guts to be elected and introduce these changes? Probably zero.
Nowadays, families are growing at a much smaller pace than ever before. Women are no longer dependant on men to keep running a family. Same-sex couples in the Western countries are gradually being accepted by law, people of different races are marrying each other, and single parents are becoming the norm. Gradually and slowly, social cohesion (different people living together) is occurring in Malta. All of these types of families make us more diverse and is the stepping-stone for humanity’s future. Even though it is true there is diversity, most people are not aware of it, or they try to avoid it through denial.
I think it is still very early to call the Maltese society a diverse one; we have to accept that others are also a part of it instead of discriminating against migrants and other foreigners residing in Malta.
Children raised by gay and lesbian couples develop just as well as those brought up by traditional couples, a British child psychologist today told a US federal court considering whether a California ban on gay marriage denies constitutional rights.
Lawyer David Thompson, defending the ban, jousted with Michael Lamb, head of the Social and Developmental Psychology Department at Cambridge University, about whether a child growing up without a father or without a mother would face developmental problems.
Two gay men and two lesbian women are asking the federal court to rule the right to marry has no exceptions under the US Constitution, a fight they hope to take all the way to the US Supreme Court in a bid to overturn bans on same-sex marriage in 40 states.
A key question in the case is whether government, and US voters, have a reasonable justification for denying same-sex couples the right to marry, such as promoting healthier families, or if the bans reflect discrimination and hate.
The record of evidence gathered by Federal District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, including the issue of whether gays are good parents, may be relied on heavily by appeals courts, which generally do not have as much time to review a case as in the original trial.
Lamb, a witness for the same-sex couples, argued that the gender of parents was not the main criterion of success for raising children.
The quality of the relationship between the child and the parents, the relationship between the parents, and the economic resources available to the family, were the top issues for healthy children, he said.
Kids had no trouble with their own sexual identity or other development due to growing up with same-sex parents, he argued, and the ways fathers and mothers interacted with kids was not as important as having two parents, he said.
"Children clearly benefit when they have two parents, both of them actively involved," said Lamb. Asked if mothers and fathers interacted differently with children, he replied, "It is now quite clear that those differences in and of themselves do not significantly affect children's adjustment," he said.
Studies reject the conclusion that children are abused more when raised by same-sex couples.
"There is no evidence that gays or lesbians are more likely to sexually abuse children," he said. "This is one of those fairly old canards."
Later he conceded that stepfathers often created problems in families. "Girls are at greater risk of abuse by stepfathers," he agreed.
Proponents of the gay marriage ban will produce their own witnesses later in the trial and attempt to show that there is good reason to believe that homosexual parents endanger children.
The passage of the ban known as Proposition 8, in November 2008, stunned gay advocates in the United States and ended same-sex marriage in California, whose Supreme Court had legalised such unions early that summer.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Comment by R. Caruana:
As a member of this community I'd like to pose these questions to those who refuse this idea:
Everyone, be it hetero or homo, comes to a point where they feel the parental instinct kick in. Other than "god" and "nature", why are you so bent on taking away rights on the people who want to direct their affection to a child?
Alternatively, why do we give this right to hetero couples who can't have children? Isn't it your god's will for them not to have offsprings in the first place? What's the difference, excluding gender and its restrictions?
And what if these people have their own children through artificial ways? Does your argument still hold ground?
The parents have no effect on the child's sexuality, otherwise homosexuals wouldn't exist.
An orphan can choose who they live with, it's not up to the couple to decide. That's why there should be sessions where the three should sit down and talk it out.
To they who believe in "god" and "nature", and state I am an abomination; I hope your children aren't like me. You'll hurt them the worst.
A Ugandan preacher with close ties to US evangelicals and President Yoweri Museveni's family said today he planned to organise a "million-man" march in February to support a proposed anti-gay law in parliament.
The east African nation has faced intense pressure from Western governments and human rights groups over anti-homosexuality legislation tabled in parliament as a private members' bill last year.
Museveni seemed to distance himself and the government from the proposed law on Tuesday, saying it was a foreign policy issue and calling for more talks. The ex-rebel leader said he had been under pressure from Western leaders.
"We want to show how many people support the bill," Pastor Martin Ssempa told journalists in the Ugandan capital.
"We want to give a postcard that (Museveni) can send to his friend (US President) Barack Obama," Ssempa said in front of posters saying "Africans Unite Against Sodomy" and "Barack Obama Back Off". He said the march was planned for February 17.
Ssempa, one of Uganda's most prominent anti-gay campaigners, criticised Western nations as "failed states" for supporting gay rights.
Under the original proposal "serial offenders", and those who commit "aggravated homosexuality", faced a death sentence.
Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo has said a revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty to life in prison rather than execution.
A local independent newspaper, the Daily Monitor, quoted parliament's speaker saying the legislative body would debate the bill despite Museveni's call for more talks. "There is no way we can be intimidated by remarks from the President to stop this bill," Edward Ssekandi was quoted as saying.
[Click on the hyplerink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Il-Partit Laburista se jkun partit li joffri mudell ta’ kif għandu jaħdem pajjiżna. Partit b’sett ta’ valuri, li jieħu ħsieb l-ambjent iżda ma jkunx mażżra għall-iżvilupp, li l-ekonomija jkollha enfasi fuq it-tnaqqis għaqli fit-taxxi, li jkollna drittijiet ċivili u ugwaljanza bejn sessi u fejn tidħol orjentazzjoni sesswali differenti kif ukoll ugwaljanza wkoll fuq il-post tax-xogħol. Dawn huma sett ta’ valuri li jiddistingwu lill-Partit Laburista minn kull partit politiku ieħor.
Dan qalu l-Mexxej Laburista Joseph Muscat waqt riċeviment li sar għall-mezzi tax-xandir u korpi kostitwiti fiċ-Ċentru Nazzjonali Laburista l-Ġimgħa wara nofsinhar. Dr Muscat qal li l-Partit Laburista daħal għal proġett politiku li l-għan tiegħu mhix elezzjoni, iżda li l-Partit Laburista jiggverna u jġib bidla fid-direzzjoni li miexi fiha l-pajjiż.
Is-Sibt, 16 ta’ Jannar 2010
Labour leader Joseph Muscat yesterday joined the chorus of criticism against censorship, saying that it was "unacceptable" for a student to be facing a potential prison term for publishing an "opinion" in a newspaper.
"I'm saying this because, in the beginning, Dolores Cristina used to say censorship fell under the Justice Ministry," said Dr Bonnici, who has drawn up a Private Member's Bill about censorship.
He was also happy that, as far as he knew, the Minister's committee of experts had agreed with the removal of censorship, and he hoped that the Minister's recommendation to "update laws to reflect 21st century reality" would mean the abolition of censorship.
"I am ready to collaborate as much as possible to create one Bill that satisfies everyone. I want to throw censorship out of the window completely but I want it to be a collective effort in Parliament," he said.
"Those are laws that we've actually strengthened recently - especially when it comes to offending religion and gay people. Censorship is about a board which decides whether something should be allowed to be watched or not - such as in the case of the banned play Stitching."
When it comes to obscenity laws in the Criminal Code, he feels the police should "learn a lesson" from the case of Realta' so as not to prosecute individuals for their literary works.
He also feels that the decision of the University to ban the newspaper was "hugely obscene", especially in its context as a university.
Although he felt the Realta' story actually had no literary value and failed to get its message across, he said it did not offend public morals and the case should be thrown out.
It-Tnejn, 11 ta’ Jannar 2010
Pope Benedict XVI has called laws ignoring the difference between the sexes an "attack" on creation just days after Portugal moved to legalise gay marriage.
Vatican diplomatic corps in a traditional January address focussing mainly on environmental issues.
"One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes," he said, citing "certain countries in Europe or North and South America."
Portugal's parliament last Friday approved plans to legalise gay marriage, and a final vote could occur before a visit by the pope in May.
Also last week, two men became the first homosexual couple to legally marry in Latin America, in the southern Argentine province of Ushuaia.
"Freedom cannot be absolute," the pontiff said. "For man, the path to be taken cannot be determined by caprice or willfulness, but must rather correspond to the structure willed by the Creator," he said.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Il-Ħadd, 10 ta’ Jannar 2010
10.1.10? by Daphne Caruana Galizia
Two years after losing the sixth of seven general elections since 1976, the Labour Party remains a policy desert. Joseph Muscat has been party leader for 19 months and we still don’t know what he stands for. The party he leads remains a milk-jelly morass of meaningless buzzwords that are completely at odds with the thinking of its core voters.
In his attempt at making the party all things for all men, he risks making it nothing and for no one.
The party emblem has been banished but no new one has replaced it. The party name has been wiped clean from all public events, conferences and demonstrations, and the words ‘moviment gdid’ used instead. The party flag has been buried, so that when the Labour leader manifests himself for the press or a television audience, he speaks beneath the national flag and that of the EU.
In his attempt at stripping Labour of its old identity he has left it with no identity at all. So far, Labour stands for nothing. Given that the momentum of change at the start of a person’s leadership is an indicator of what is to follow, it is likely that the next three years will be more of the same.
The gulf between Joseph Muscat’s words and his actions is now enormous and getting wider every day. He talks a lot of rot about fighting conservatism and making Malta more liberal, yet he is the first to cower at the prospect of making waves. Talk is cheap.
There he was kissing the Archbishop’s ring on New Year’s Day with the best of them. Here he is now, failing to take a stand on the criminal prosecution of a 21-year-old student for publishing a dirty story in a university newspaper. There he was then, keeping his lips sealed when a play that was staged all over the free world was banned from performance in Malta, though nobody can stop you reading it.
His position on the European Court of Human Rights ruling on crucifixes in Italian state schools was a shoddy piece of equivocation – trying to run with the hare, hunt with the hounds and have a glass of sherry with the huntsmen afterwards.
Muscat doesn’t even have the guts to put his money where his mouth is on the issue of divorce. “I am for divorce,” he tells us, “When I am Prime Minister I will put forward a divorce bill and withdraw the party whip so that all my MPs can vote as they please. I hope the Opposition party will do the same.”
A Prime Minister who means to legislate for divorce, rather than just prattling about it, does not withdraw the party whip. He uses it for a vote in favour. A Prime Minister who hopes for the votes of Opposition MPs to get his own divorce bill through, so that he doesn’t have to crack his own whip and take a firm stand in favour of divorce, deserves to have a real whip used to drive him off his fence-post.
I can’t have been the only one who noticed that Muscat makes a point of specifying that it is he – and not the Labour Party – who favours divorce. This, coupled with his repeated insistence that he will not use the party whip for a divorce bill, puts a rocket under the misplaced assumption of many that divorce will form part of Labour’s electoral programme for 2013.
When an item is included in a party’s electoral programme, the members of that party must vote with the whip on that particular issue. MPs stand for election on the party ticket and in representation of the party’s electoral programme. They cannot vote against divorce if they stood for election on a pro-divorce programme and if people voted for them as pro-divorce MPs in a pro-divorce party.
Labour is not going to include divorce in its electoral programme. There is the same level of religious fundamentalism and anti-divorce sentiment among Labour politicians as there is among Nationalist politicians. I would say that there is probably more of it in the Labour Party than there is in the Nationalist Party. Over the last 25 years, Labour’s defining factor has been fear of change and dogged opposition to it, while over the very same period the Nationalist Party’s defining factor has been the wholehearted seeking and embracing of change.
Those who have made the mistake of imagining that divorce is in Labour’s policy programme already – what policy programme? – fail to understand that the one thing which holds the Nationalist Party back from putting divorce into its electoral programme, now that the party is no longer led by Eddie Fenech Adami who had personal objections to the matter, is the very same thing which makes Joseph Muscat draw a distinction between his personal position on divorce and that of the party he leads.
The big obstacle standing between both parties and divorce is – you guessed it – fear of a haemorrhage of votes and of a battle royal waged for the consciences of the people, if not by the Catholic Church in its official capacity, then certainly by individual priests and monsignors. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but as Malta becomes more and more secular, religious fundamentalism has increased. It is not a contradiction in terms.
The Nationalist Party’s fear of what priests and prayer groups can do to wreak electoral havoc has been interpreted as obsequiousness and obedience to religious leaders. Muscat spent his first months as leader accusing government politicians of being conservative – but when it came to the crunch, it turned out to be quite a different thing. He has taken a personal position in favour of divorce but his party has not and will not, which means that his ‘I am in favour of divorce’ stance means nothing. People don’t want a pro-divorce party leader. They want divorce legislation. The two are different, and only fools believe that a pro-divorce leader means divorce legislation when divorce is not in a party’s electoral programme and the pro-divorce party leader has committed himself to withdrawing the parliamentary whip.
It’s the same with the matter of gay rights. The rights that gay people want – the ones that they do not have already by dint of being human and holding a European passport – all derive from marriage or its legal equivalent. So the only way that Labour is going to be able to deliver these rights when in government is by putting civil partnership for same-sex couples (so-called ‘gay marriage’, though marriage is most often anything but gay) into its electoral programme, allowing people to vote for it – or not.
But Labour is not going to do that for precisely the same reasons that it won’t be putting divorce into its electoral programme either. It knows that listing same-sex marriage in its manifesto for 2013 will unleash all of hell’s furies among its supporters, the most conservative people in the country, who even voted against EU membership because of the changes they feared it would bring.
Contrary to popular perception, if Labour includes divorce and gay marriage in its electoral programme, it will not meet with mocking and flame-fanning from the Nationalist Party, for roughly equal but opposite reasons: any such behaviour will provoke an extremely negative reaction from its own supporters, many of whom are neither politically nor religiously conservative (those who imagine that I am atypical in my views are way off the mark).
The Labour Party faffs around with the setting-up of a Gay Section – which only serves to underscore its belief that gay people are different to the rest and must be segregated. There is no Gay Section in the Nationalist Party not because it is homophobic, but because homosexuality is quite simply not an issue. It has certainly not been a barrier to progress right through the party hierarchy, for example. Only conservatives think of homosexual people as The Other, who must be sectioned off and defined by their sexuality. Setting up a political ghetto for gays is not a liberal move, but a ‘conservative-trying-hard-to-be-liberal’ one.
Instead of reading in our newspapers that the Labour Party has taken up an official position in favour of gay marriage, and that it has committed itself to legislating for same-sex civil partnerships, without removing the party whip, we have to content ourselves with First magazine last month, in which we were treated to “The Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Michelle Muscat invite us to their home in Burmarrad” and – hey ho – coincidentally the doorbell rings while the interviewer is sitting on the “comfortable sofa” and eating “Michelle’s home-made gingerbread Christmas trees”.
“The doorbell rings and a couple of their friends join us. Michelle speaks to them in French, which goes over my head, while Joseph introduces them to me in more sedate French, which I manage to understand. Laurent is a lecturer in history at the Sorbonne and his partner Michel is a make-up artist.”
“‘So your speaking about civil partnership rights for gays is not just a way for you to look cool and progressive?’ I somewhat cheekily ask Joseph. I also remind him that it was the Labour Party that decriminalised homosexuality in 1973 and that the Nationalist Party had voted against this. I was only a very young boy back then and the Leader of the Opposition not yet born. He grins, his eyes smiling mischievously and remarks casually: ‘Being progressive is looking towards the future and 1973 is a very long time ago. Let’s let bygones be bygones.”
Ah, but he didn’t answer the question. If the interviewer were not one of those gay men who probably believe that a vote for Joseph Muscat means a wedding-ring on their finger, he might have rephrased his question to be more specific: “Will the Labour Party put gay marriage in its electoral programme for 2013?” Then watch him squirm out of that one.