Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Mara barranija kellha ż-żwieġ tagħha ma' raġel Malti annullat wara li rriżulta li kien ingannaha billi ħbielha li huwa omosesswali. Il-pro ċe duri għall-annullament bdew wara li qabditu għarwien fis-sodda ma' raġel ieħor.
Il-koppja kienu żżewwġu ċi vilment madwar sitt snin ilu wara li kienu ilhom jo ħor ġu flimkien ftit xhur. Il-mara qalet li għalkemm kien ikollhom relazzjonijiet intimi, żewġha kien jinsisti li jkollhom x'jaqsmu b'mod mhux naturali għax dawn l-af farijiet kienu jeċitawh.
Sadanittant bdiet tinnota li żewġha kien qed jiffrekwenta ħbieb li huma omosesswali, u dan il-fatt beda jdejjaqha għax dawn kienu dejjem iku nu fid-dar tagħhom.
Darba minnhom issorpren dietu waqt li kien għarwien fis-sodda ma' wieħed mill-ħbieb tiegħu, u eventwalment żewġ ha ammetta magħha li huwa omosesswali u peress li kien ħbielha dan il-fatt qabel iż-żwieġ, hija ħassitha li kienet ġiet ingannata minnu.
Biex tipprova aktar il-każ tagħ ha, il-mara pproduċiet sen tenza fejn żewġha kien instab ħati flimkien ma' raġel ieħor li tlajja għall-prostituzzjoni fi Triq Aldo Moro, il-Marsa.
Fid-dawl tal-fatt li r-raġel ik konferma dak kollu li qalet dwaru martu, il-Qorti tal-Fa milja annullat iż-żwieġ min ħabba li ma kienx qalilha li fih hemm kwalità li mix-xorti tagħha tfixkel serjament il-ħaj ja miżżewġa u għalhekk ma kienx kapaċi li jassumi l-obbligi matrimonjali u jibni ma' martu komunjoni ta' ħaj ja u mħabba.
26.6.10 by Dr Joseph Carmel Chetcuti * BA Hons, MA Hons, LLB Hons, LTHThe president of Malta is appointed by a resolution of the House of Representatives. Like any other citizen, anyone appointed to the position comes with his or her own ‘baggage’; he or she has his or her own personal views on a range of matters. The governing party in Malta in effect appoints the president; more often than not, it appoints a person it considers ‘safe’ not only to the party but to the ruling faction within it. It matters little if that person is drawn from ‘the other side’ of politics. As political scientists have long observed, the majority of political parties are converging to the centre.
Given the recent formation of the Maltese presidency (the country’s first president was appointed in 1974), Malta does not have a wealth of conventions surrounding the office. It is my submission, however, that an unelected president should rise above politics and not become embroiled in it. Significantly, he or she should not discharge the role of a politician. And when I say ‘above politics’, I expect a president to rise above each and every controversy that divides or has the potential of dividing a nation! Taking sides in any political debate demeans a presidency, and, significantly, creates the impression that a president no longer represents a section of the community. You have to be short of a full quid to think that comments made at a national conference on the family can be properly characterised as ‘private’. They were public comments made in a public forum and designed to stall the fight of gay men and lesbians for full equality.
So what is so wrong with a president defining marriage as a union and only a union between a man and a woman, and identifying a family with that which a man and a woman construct?
Let us start at the beginning. A definition of marriage as a union and only a union between a man and a woman is factually wrong. Same sex marriages are now available in a number of countries. Defining family as only that created by a man and a woman is also wrong. There is ample evidence of ‘the law’ recognising same-sex families. The Family Court of Australia, for example, now has jurisdiction (at least in some instances) over same-sex partners. There are also numerous same sex families out and about. A definition of marriage and the family, as suggested by the president, is not descriptive but normative. It is more than that – it is heteronormative. It tells us how marriages and families should be and not how they are. Given the current debate not only in Malta but everywhere else, such a statement is in and of itself political.
Secondly, the institutions of marriage and the family have been constructed by us. They are historical constructs and follow not predate the individual. They are institutions that have undergone significant changes over the centuries. Husbands and fathers are no longer ‘heads’ of the family. Men and women relate to each other on equal terms and are no longer considered chattel. Children enjoy rights. Within the Maltese context, Carmel Cassar and others have written books and articles on this very subject, and the president would be well advised to read them if he has not already done so. In any event, the real heterosexual family is not always the ideal family that many of its defenders present. They see it through rose-coloured glasses. Many gay men and lesbians have had very different and unhappy experiences at the hands of their own (heterosexual) family. Bernard, a dear friend of mine of the mid-1970s, committed suicide because his policeman father forced him into a psychiatric ward in the hope that his son would “become normal”. The policeman father reportedly stated that he did not want a gay son. He lost his son on Valentine’s Day.
Thirdly, governments are well advised to concern themselves less with the institutions of marriage and the family and more with the people within them. I fail to see how same-sex marriage and same-sex families pose any threat to the institutions of marriage and the family. As I see it, the fact that some gay men and lesbians want to join the ranks of marriage and the family suggests that they have high regard towards these institutions. (We, too, may be looking at these institutions through rose-coloured glasses.) Opposition to same sex marriages and support for the heterosexual family are not one and the same. Demonising others provides no support to struggling heterosexual families. Governments that are sincere about the state of the family tackle such problems as the escalating costs of utilities (particularly heating costs during winter), food and house prices not to mention domestic violence. They do not conveniently interpret such increasing costs as a sign of prosperity particularly when their impact on poor families is nothing short of tragic. They also go about providing counselling services to families, and not leave the work to the Church. They do something about parents having to take on two on three jobs simply to keep their family above water.
Fourthly, an expression of a person’s opinion - however one characterises such an opinion - has the effect of advantaging one group over another. Gay men and lesbians have long been victims of persecution and prosecution; they have been made to feel that the love that two men and two women have for each other is somehow inferior to that between a man and a woman. Public utterances against same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex families may have the effect of gay men and lesbians thinking less of themselves. They certainly do not provide a boost to gay and lesbian young adults. Not to put too fine a point, they are destructive. Genuine respect towards children should include respect towards gay and lesbian children.
Fifthly, and given the current climate both in Malta and overseas, no one can express an opinion on same sex marriages and families without entering the political arena. Dr Joseph Muscat, Leader of the Labour Party, recently called for a secular state. The president’s intervention may be taken as a rebuff of the LP’s resolve to separate Church from State. After all, we all know that it is priestly cruelty and intolerance that is at the core of prejudice against gay men and lesbians. There is also another disturbing feature: why is the president entering the political arena, the domain of politicians, when the Prime Minister seems to distance himself from such a controversy? Such interventions by a president may create the undignified impression that the president has been bought.
A president who does not rise above politics (at least as I see it) has only one honourable course of action open to him or her: resignation.
Let me be quite clear about my position on same-sex marriages. I support the right of gay men and lesbians to marry and form families. My greater concern, however, is that same-sex marriage will go down the way of many heterosexual marriages … divorces and more divorces and even more divorces or, as is the case in Malta, couples living ‘in sin’ (what a lovely expression!). At Victoria’s pride march of 4 February 2010, a placard carried by a young teenager said it all: “Marriage is the problem not the solution.”
*Chetcuti is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He is a gay activist, and the author of Il-Ktieb Roza: Dnub, Dizordni u Delitt? (1997) and Queer Mediterranean Memories: Penetrating the Secret History and Silence of Gay and Lesbian Disguise in the Maltese Archipelago (2009).
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Saturday 17th July, 10:30am City Gate Valletta
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=128946193812797
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) would like to invite you/your organisation to the annual Pride March. This year’s event is planned to take place on Saturday 17th July 2010, gathering at 10:30am at City Gate, Valletta.
Pride is a symbolic manifestation which is held in many different cities around the world. It aims to increase the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and their integral role in the societies where they live. While it is possible in Malta to March peacefully this does not mean that homophobia and transphobia are no longer present in our society, or that harassment and discrimination no longer affect the lives of the LGBT community.
Rights Now! - the theme for this year’s Pride Week is a demand for the enactment of legislation to enshrine into existing law the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It reflects our call to politicians to move beyond words of support and understanding regarding the need for equality, solidarity and acceptance and to progress to concrete actions that will make a difference to the quality of our lives and those of our families.
This is the seventh consecutive year that this event is being organised and your participation is a clear sign of your commitment to respect for diversity and equality in Maltese society and around the world.
For further information please contact MGRM on 9925 5559 or visit our website at www.maltagayrights.org.
ILGA: ECHR: “a cohabiting same-sex couple living in a stable de facto partnership, falls within the notion of “family life”...
Today the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgement in the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria and ruled that Austria did not breach Article 12 (right to marry) by not allowing a same-sex couple to marry.
Monday, 28 June 2010
Alternattiva Demokratika Zaghzagh has always welcomed inter-faith dialogue and appreciates the fact that thanks to our religious authorities Malta has never seen any friction on the basis of faith.
However, being united for the common good was definitely not the case where Catholic and Muslim authorities spoke together against same-sex marriages, giving the impression that homosexuals are some kind of threat to society and the family institution. While it is understandable that same-sex marriages will not be acceptable in a faith marriage, it is unfair to say the least, to deny the basic civil rights to a couple in love with each other because of religious dogma. Family life is not exclusive to heterosexual couples, and this is clearly reflected in the diverse family forms that exist in Malta. Opening marriage legislation to same-sex couples will be granting lesbian and gay individuals equal rights, which is a basic human right, and the protection that heterosexual married couples enjoy.
Alternattiva Demokratika Zaghzagh dejjem laqgħet djalogu bejn religjonijiet differenti u tapprezza l-fatt f'pajjzna qatt ma rajna tensjonijiet religjuzi, grazzi għall-awtoritajiet reliġjużi Maltin.
Iżda meta l-kapijiet tal-kommunita Kattolika u dik Musulmana inqagħdu u tkellmu kontra ż-żwiġijiet bejn koppji tal-istess sess taw l-impressjoni li l-omosesswali huma xi tgheddida ghas-socjeta u l-instituzzjoni tal-familja. Filwaqt li nifhmu li zwieg bejn koppja ta' l-istess sess mhux aċċettabli bħala żwieġ ta' fidi, nħossu li hu inġust li ċċaħħad dritt ċivili lil koppja li tinħabb ħabba xi domma reliġjuża partikolari. Il-familja mhix esklużiva għall-koppji eterosesswali u din hi riflessa fid-diversi forom ta' familja li jeżistu f'Malta. Il-ftuħ tal-leġislazzjoni taż-żwieġ għal koppji ta' l-istess sess tkun qegħda tirrikonoxxi d-drittijiet civili ta' individwi omosesswali, ttihom wieħed mid-drittijiet umani bażiċi u l-protezzjoni li jgawdu koppji eterosesswali.
28 June 2010
The ECJ was ruling on an application by Austrian nationals Horst Michael Schalk and Johann Franz Kopf, who in 2002 asked the competent authorities to allow them to contract marriage.
Their request was refused by the Vienna Municipal Office on the grounds that marriage could only be contracted between persons of opposite sex and was confirmed on appeal, and again by the Constitutional Court.
The application was lodged with the ECHR in 2004, complaining that they were discriminated against on account of their sexual orientation since they were denied the right to marry and did not have any other possibility to have their relationship recognised by law (until the entry into force of the Registered Partnership Act in 2010, which aimed to provide same-sex couples with a formal mechanism for recognising and giving legal effect to their relationships).
The Court observed that among Council of Europe member states there was no consensus regarding same-sex marriage and stressed that national authorities were best placed to assess and respond to the needs of society in this field, given that marriage had deep-rooted social and cultural connotations differing largely from one society to another.
The Court found that Article 12 (the right to marry) did not impose an obligation on the Austrian government to grant a same-sex couple access to marriage. It also ruled out that such a right was derived from the point of view of discrimination or the right to respect for a private and family life.
The Court observed that while there was an emerging European consensus towards legal recognition of same-sex couples, there was not yet a majority of states providing for it. It also said that it was not convinced by the argument that if a state chose to provide same-sex couples with an alternative means of recognition, it was obliged to confer a status on them which corresponded to marriage in every respect.
The ruling was not unanimous.
Fi żmienu kien bniedem kontroversjali, imma anki issa, 120 sena wara mewtu, u ftit xhur qabel jiġi ddikjarat “Beatu” mill-Papa Benedittu XVI, marbuta miegħu hemm kontroversji ġodda.
John Henry Newman, intellettwali Ingliż, kittieb, fundatur tal-Oxford Movement, moviment progressiv Anglikan u saċerdot, kien kaġun li heżżeż id-dinja Anglikana. Fl-1845 huwa kien ħass li jikkonverti, abbanduna l-Knisja Anglikana u ngħaqad ma’ dik li l-Protestanti kienu jsejħu “il-Prostituta ta’ Babilonja” – Il-Knisja Kattolika Rumana. Qed nitkellmu dwar żmien meta ħadd ma kien għadu xamm bl-Ekumeniżmu, u fejn il-knejjes Insara kienu blokok separati totalment minn xulxin.
L-awtobijografija tiegħu, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Apoloġija Għal Ħajtu) hija meqjusa bħala ktieb klassiku spiritwali kbir. Ħafna jqisu lil Newman, speċjalment fil-pajjiżi li jitkellmu bl-Ingliż, bħala wieħed mill-aqwa ħassieba Kattoliċi tal-era moderna.
Newman twieled f’Londra fl-1801, u ta’ 27 sena nħatar vicar ta’ St Mary’s Church, Oxford, fejn baqa’ magħruf għall-priedki profondi tiegħu, u għall-ħidma tiegħu favur ir-riforma fil-Knisja Anglikana.
Meta ta’ 44 sena ddeċieda li jsir Kattoliku, qamu l-irwiefen kollha. Mhux biss fil-Knisja Anglikana, imma anki fost il-Kattoliċi. Kien hemm min baqa’ ma fehmux, u meta jkun hemm il-preġudizzju, ikun hemm is-suspetti. Xi wħud kienu jattakkaw it-tagħlim progressiv tiegħu, imma mhux! L-attakki kienu jsiru saħansitra fuq il-karattru tiegħu.
Ftit wara li sar Kattoliku ġie ordnat saċerdot, waqqaf l-Oratorju ta’ San Filippu Neri f’Birmingham u Londra,u waqqaf ukoll Università Kattolika f’Dublin. L-Apologia Pro Vita Sua kitibha biex iwieġeb għall-attakki li kienu jsiru kontrieh, kif ukoll l-attakki li kienu ħraxu kontra l-kleru Kattoliku, f’epoka li l-intolleranza għall-Knisja Kattolika kienet għadha kkargata sew.
Kellu jkun il-Papa Ljun XIII li jaħtru Kardinal fl-età ta’ 78 sena biex sikket xi ftit lill-kritiċi tiegħu fi ħdan il-Knisja li tant ħabb. Fost ir-“rivoluzzjonijiet” tiegħu nsibu l-ktieb tiegħu “On consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine” u t-trattat tiegħu dwar il-kuxjenza – tagħlim li 100 sena wara sab postu fid-dokumenti tal-Konċilju Vatikan II.
Imma l-kontroversja ta’ issa ma qamitx dwar it-tagħlim tiegħu, imma għaliex reġgħet qamet id-diċerija li l-Kardinal kien omosesswali. Fi żmienu stess kien attakkat li kellu “karatteristiċi femminili”.
Hu kellu ħafna relazzjonijiet emozzjonali profondi ma’ diversi dixxipli tiegħu. Fost l-aktar ħbieb intimi tiegħu kien hemm ċertu qassis, Ambrose St John. Dawn għexu flimkien għal diversi snin. Ambrose miet qabel Newman, u dan tal-aħħar kien kiteb li l-mewt ta’ ħabibu kienet trawma kbira għalih. Hu kien wera x-xewqa, kif fil-fatt sar, li jindifen fl-istess qabar, ma’ ħabibu Ambrose.
Minkejja dawn il-ħbiberiji li kellu ma’ persuni tal-istess sess, ħadd għadu ma ipproduċa xi evidenza li Newman kien omosesswali jew li qatt ipprattika l-omosesswalità.
Billi issa se jiġi iddikjarat Beatu, il-Vatikan iddeċieda li jeżuma l-katavru tiegħu u jieħu r-relikwji tiegħu f’post li jkunu aktar aċċessibbli għall-qima tal-fidili. L-attivisti omosesswali ddikjaraw dan il-pass li jmur kontra x-xewqa tal-istess Newman, u l-Vatikan għamel hekk biex “jifred” lil Newman mill-“partner” tiegħu!! U dan kollu qed isir bħala “persekuzzjoni kontra l-omosesswali!”.
Każ klassiku ta’ kif tagħmel hijack minn xi ħaġa u ddawwarha għall-finijiet tiegħek. Dan kollu, jidhirli jien, ma jagħmel unur la lill-memorja ta’ bniedem devot, Nisrani ta’ veru, li ta kontribut kbir lill-Knejjes Insara kollha, u lanqas lill-istess omosesswali.
Sunday, 27 June 2010
The views on marriage and sexuality expressed by the Catholic and Muslim leaders in Malta during a conference yesterday suggested a ‘marriage of convenience’ between the country's two largest religious denominations to propagate inherently flawed beliefs, the Malta Humanist Association and the Malta Gay Rights Movement said in a joint statement.
The MHA and the MGRM said they were all in favour of inter-cultural dialogue, but from a humanist perspective, it was alarming that such influential institutions should use their combined strength to prevent couples of the same gender from marrying, simply because of an ancient myth about a man, a woman and a talking snake.
They said that quotes attributed to Arbishop Paul Cremona and Ammar Hreba, the head of the Islamic Centres and Propagation Bureau, suggested that the local Catholic and Muslim community leaders inclined towards a literal interpretation of the creation myth from their respective scriptures.
"The Malta Humanist Association - being an organisation rooted in the principles of science and rationality – cannot but reject interpretations which disregard all scientific knowledge on the subject of humanity’s origins: especially when such distortions are used for political ends, in order to influence legislation that affects the private lives of thousands of people," the statement said.
It said it was also regrettable that religious leaders (Mr Hreba in particular) would resort to such alarmist language with regard to same-sex unions.
The MHA and MGRM both strongly deplore such language which they said was an example of hate speech, and urged Mr Hreba to retract his statement on the family and same sex marriage and apologise for the hurt caused to thousands of Maltese citizens currently in same-sex relationships.
Mr Hreba said yesterday: "If we let the family collapse, thanks to the negative directions of the media, this will lead to catastrophes and destruction. Same-sex marriages, for instance, destroy the entity of how family began with Adam and Eve."
The Malta Gay Rights Movement further held that same-sex marriage was no more a threat to heterosexual couples and straight families than space exploration or deep sea diving.
"It is regrettable that the focus should be on same-sex marriage, rather than on the real threat to families of all shapes and sizes, that is: poverty, poor parenting, inadequate housing, low educational aspirations and attainment; poor mental health, child abuse, domestic violence and unemployment, among others," it said.
The Malta Humanist Association found it strange that the Church would cite only ‘divorce’ and ‘polygamy’ as examples of areas where it disagreed with Islam.
"One would have thought the Church founded by Christ would also object - as Christ did - to the death penalty for adultery (which Sharia law applies only in the case of women), as well as for atheism and apostasy - a state of fact which flies in the face of decency, and also blatantly breaches fundamental human rights."
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Skont Gabi Calleja tal-Malta Gay Rights Movement – MGRM, barra l-familja tradizzjonali bejn mara u raġel, jeżistu forom oħrajn ta’ familji. Calleja stqarret ukoll li minkejja li hawn koppji magħmulin minn żewġ persuni tal-istess sess, dawn xorta jistgħu jkunu “kreattivi” biżżejjed biex ikollhom it-tfal.
Calleja għamlet dawn l-affermazzjonijiet fil-bidu ta’ dan ix-xahar quddiem il-Kumitat Permanenti dwar l-Affarijiet Soċjali tal-Parlament Malti, li jinkludi membri miż-żewġ partiti politiċi ewlenin ta’ pajjiżna.
Fl-intervent tagħha, Calleja saħqet fuq ix-xewqa tal-persuni li għandhom orjentazzjoni sesswali differenti, li jkollhom ir-relazzjoni tagħhom rikonoxxuta mill-Istat, kif ukoll id-dritt tagħhom li jkollhom familja u jrabbu t-tfal. Hi spjegat li fl-Unjoni Ewropea jeżistu mudelli differenti ta’ relazzjonijiet ta’ koppji tal-istess sess. F’pajjiżi bħall-Belġju, l-Olanda, Spanja, u l-Portugall, spjegat Calleja, l-Istat jagħraf iż-żwieġ bejn dawn il-koppji, waqt li fl-Ingilterra u Franza teżisti l-unjoni ċivili. F’pajjiżi oħrajn, bħall-Italja, teżisti l-liġi tal-koabitazzjoni, li tagħti protezzjoni u drittijiet bażiċi.
Calleja fakkret li f’Malta ma hawn ebda liġi li tirrikonoxxi relazzjoni bejn koppja tal-istess sess u l-Malta Gay Rights Movement jisħaq “li dan għandu jsir għaliex id-drittijiet fundamentali tal-bniedem, f’dan il-każ ta’ dawk il-persuni li għandhom orjentazzjoni sesswali differenti, mhux qed jiġu mħarsin f’pajjiżna”.
Calleja argumentat li ħafna drabi meta jsir kliem dwar koppji tal-istess sess, jingħad li dawn mhumiex familji.
“Il-perċezzjoni hi li koppji tal-istess sess ma jistgħux irabbu jew jkollhom tfal,” qalet Calleja. Skont artiklu ta’ CJ Patterson, bl-isem ta’ “Family relationships of lesbians and gay men”, li deher fil-Journal of Marriage and the Family, “din l-ideoloġija ġeneralment mhix assoċjata ma’ esperjenzi personali, imma ġejja biss minn twemmin kulturali”.
Imma affermat Calleja: “Madankollu, il-koppji tal-istess sess huma kreattivi u xorta waħda jirnexxilhom jagħmlu li jixtiequ.”
Fil-kuntest semmiet mezzi differenti li dawn il-koppji jistgħu jirrikorru għalihom biex ikollhom it-tfal, bħalma hi l-inseminazzjoni artifiċjali, jew li jkollhom relazzjoni intima ma’ membru tas-sess oppost. Fil-każ tal-irġiel omosesswali, spjegat Calleja, “dawn faċilment jistgħu jirrikorru għal surragate parenthood”, jew aħjar il-kiri tal-ġuf tal-mara li ġġorr tarbija għal ħaddieħor. Hemm ukoll l-assistenza teknoloġika tar-riproduzzjoni (IVF).
F’ħin minnhom, Calleja rreferiet ukoll għall-possibbiltà tal-adozzjoni, u semmiet tliet tipi ta’ adozzjoni li mhux kollha jistgħu jsiru f’pajjiżna.
“Hemm is-second parent adoption, fejn is-sieħeb jew sieħba, jiġifieri l-ġenitur mhux bijoloġiku, jadotta t-tfal tas-sieħeb jew sieħba tiegħu. Hemm, imbagħad, l-adozzjoni tat-terza persuna, jew aħjar il-każ meta koppja tadotta tfal ta’ ħaddieħor. Hawn Malta din hija possibbli biss għal persuni miżżewġa. Hemm ukoll l-adozzjoni ta’ ġenitur wieħed – single parent adoption, u din hija possibbli għal persuni omosesswali, għalkemm pajjiżi barranin qegħdin idejqu l-aċċess jekk isiru jafu bl-orjentazzjoni sesswali tal-applikanti, għax jaħsbu li jidħlu problemi ta’ kwistjonijiet ta’ kustodja.”
Quddiem dawn l-affermazzjonijiet, IL-ĠENSILLUM online tkellmet ma’ Fr Ray Zammit, lekċerer fit-Teoloġija Morali fl-Università ta’ Malta. Dr Zammit qal li jibqa’ l-fatt li “fl-assenza ta’ liġi, huwa possibbli li koppji tal-istess sess jagħmlu użu mit-teknologija tar-riproduzzjoni (IVF)”. Rigward il-kiri tal-ġuf , jewsurrogacy, Dr Zammit qal li jista' jkun hemm diversi problemi “jekk l-omm li qed tikri l-ġuf tagħha ma taċċettax li tagħti t-tarbija lil min ħallas għall-kera. Barra minn Malta kien hemm diversi każijiet fuq hekk”.
Dejjem dwar l-aspetti li qajmet Calleja, Dr Zammit qal li “mill-aspett morali hemm ħafna x’wieħed jixtarr. Il-kwistjoni mhix daqshekk sempliċi, daqskemm mhux faċli għal persuna adulta li tixtieq li trabbi t-tfal, li taqbad u tadotta”. Fil-fehma tiegħu, imbagħad, “inkunu qed naqilbu d-dinja ta’ taħt fuq jekk inħarsu lejn il-kwistjoni mil-lenti tal-adulti li jixtiequ t-tfal, flok mil-lenti tal-aħjar interess tat-tfal”.
Dr Zammit ma jaħsibx li wieħed jista’ jitkellem dwar id-dritt li jkollu t-tfal akkost ta’ kollox, “imma jekk il-mod kif it-tfal jiġu fid-dinja jirrispettax l-aħjar interessi tagħhom u d-dinjità tagħhom ta’ persuna, u allura mhux oġġett tax-xewqa tal-ġenituri”.
Sostna li jekk persuna lesbjana jkollha x’taqsam ma’ xi ħadd biex toħroġ tqila, “dan ikun ifisser li t-tifel jew tifla mhux se jkollhom kuntatt mal-missier naturali, jew bijologiku, tagħhom; l-istess meta persuna omosesswali jkollu x’jaqsam ma’ mara biex iġġorr it-tarbija tiegħu, dan ikun ifisser li t-tifel jew tifla mhux se jkollhom kuntatt mal-omm naturali, jew bijoloġika, tagħhom.
“Li mbagħad koppja tal-istess sess tirrikorri għall-IVF biex ikollha t-tfal, għal darb’oħra dan ikun possibbli biss meta jkun hemm donazzjoni ta’ sperma jew ovoċiti, li jfisser li hemm qasma bejn il-ġenituri bijoloġiċi tat-tifel jew tifla, u min irabbihom. Jidhirli li t-tfal għandhom id-dritt morali li jkunu jafu min huma l-ġenituri bijoloġiċi tagħhom u li d-donazzjoni ta’ sperma jew ovoċiti, apparti li ddaħħal terza persuna fir-relazzjoni tal-koppja, m’għandhiex tkun xi ħaġa anonima”, spjega Dr Zammit.
Min-naħa tagħha, il-Kummissarju għat-Tfal, Helen D’Amato, qalet li tinkoraġġixxi konformità sħiħa mal-Konvenzjoni tal-Ġnus Magħquda dwar id-Drittijiet tat-Tfal, “li tirrikonoxxi li t-tfal, għall-iżvilupp sħiħ u tajjeb tal-personalità tagħhom, għandhom jitrabbew fi ħdan il-familja, f’ambjent ta’ hena, imħabba u ftehim”. Il-Kummissarju fakkret ukoll li l-Konvenzjoni tgħid ukoll li t-tfal għandhom dritt ikunu jafu min huma l-ġenituri tagħhom, u li jkollhom relazzjoni mill-qrib u kuntatt mal-ġenituri tagħhom.
Dwar adozzjoni minn persuna b’orjentazzjoni sesswali differenti, il-Kummissarju qalet li l-liġi Maltija tagħti l-opportunità li persuna single, mingħajr ma tagħmel riferenza għall-orjentazzjoni sesswali tagħha, tista’ tadotta, u bħal f’kull każ ieħor ta’ adozzjoni, dejjem jekk jinstab li dan huwa fl-aħjar interess tat-tfal.
Filwaqt li l-Kummissarju għat-Tfal tagħraf li d-definizzjoni ta’ familja ma hi bl-ebda mod fissa, fil-fehma tagħha “għandu jsir sforz biex l-aħjar interessi tat-tfal jibqgħu fiċ-ċentru tal-attenzjoni u jipprevalu fuq kull interess ieħor tal-adulti”. Fakkret li “hemm nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni anki fuq livell internazzjonali dwar x’effetti ikun hemm fuq it-tfal meta dawn jgħixu u jitrabbew f’ambjent ta’ koppja tal-istess sess, u għalhekk huwa ferm diffiċli li wieħed jgħid x’inhu l-aħjar fl-interess tat-tfal.
“Wieħed jittama li meta llum dan is-suġġett qiegħed ikun diskuss aktar spiss, meta ssir riċerka speċifika u meta jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet, f’dan kollu għandu jkun hemm konsiderazzjoni serja tal-effett li dan it-tip ta’ ambjent iħalli fuq it-tfal. Għaldaqstant, għandu jiġi evalwat l-impatt fuq it-tfal ta’ trobbija tagħhom ġo familji Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual.”
IL-ĠENSILLUM online ħadet ir-reazzjoni wkoll ta’ Rosalie Vella Piscopo, mill-Aġenzija APPOĠĠ. Vella Piscopo kkonfermat li “persuni single għandhom dritt li jadottaw, peress li l-liġi ma tispeċifikax l-orjentazzjoni sesswali tal-persuni li jersqu biex jadottaw”.
Hi saħqet li l-Aġenzija Appoġġ “tenfasizza li l-fattur ewlieni li jagħmel ġenitur tajjeb jew le huwa l-kapaċità ta’ dak il-ġenitur li joffri ambjent ta’ mħabba, sigurtà u stabbiltà lit-tfal. It-tfal mhumiex dritt assolut tal-adult: anzi, huma l-bżonnijiet tat-tfal li jridu jiġu milħuqin u mhux il-bżonnijiet tal-individwu. L-adozzjoni hi waħda mill-modi kif jintlaħqu l-bżonnijiet tat-tfal, u mhux kif jiġu sodisfatti l-bżonnijiet tal-adult, u dan irrespettivament mill-orjentazzjoni sesswali ta’ din l-persuna jew persuni”.
27.6.10? by Josanne Cassar
[Excerpt from the article. Click on the hyperlink above to view the entire article.]
When Alice fell through a black hole into a world where everything was distorted, logic flew out the window and nonsense gibberish became the norm.
I often get the feeling that Malta has become the land of Mad Hatters.
Fundamentalist and proud
Another surreal incident occurred this week as Archbishop Cremona joined hands with the head of the Islamic Centres and Propagation Bureau, to speak out against same sex marriages. (Don't worry, there won't be any similar cosy photo opportunities when they come to the subject of divorce.) Homosexuals who happen to be either Catholic or Muslim must have felt very comforted. Of course, gays are free not to embrace either religion, but for those who still feel a need for spiritual guidance by what they believe to be their faith, this was yet another blow.
I also don't see why the marriage of a gay couple should be equated with the breakdown in marriages between heterosexual couples.
The sentence which really popped out at me, however, was where the Archbishop "called for the State to help couples prepare for marriage due to an increase in couples deciding against faith marriages". Like Freddie Mercury, I thought I was going slightly mad and had to read this line several times. That's great – not only are we not moving anywhere near to the separation of Church and State, but we are now being continuously bombarded with blatant interference of the Church in civil matters. If a couple want to get married in a civil wedding it is a deliberate choice, which probably has a lot to do with their not wanting the Church to dictate their relationship.
Let me break it to you gently: nothing prepares you for marriage or for living under the same roof with another person day in day out. A governmental version of the Cana course is certainly not going to do the trick, because guess what? The Cana course isn't working either.
The media is being asked to do its bit to help promote stable marriages (do I smell another lucrative PR campaign?) but here again, do they honestly think a couple of billboards showing happy families will keep a warring couple from heading to court? I think the only way to promote marriage stability is to teach girls (especially) that the answer to their lifelong happiness is not a ring on their finger. Let's stop with all this preposterous social pressure to have a dream wedding which two years down the line often turns into a nightmare. Along with instilling some good manners, let's start talking to children about why, when they grow up, it's crucial to get married for the right reasons, rather than because everyone they know is doing it.
Friday, 25 June 2010
Muslim and Catholic preachers gathered at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Paola, Malta, yesterday to discuss the role of the family in a modern, globalised society, negative media coverage of faith and the issue of gay marriage, which they united against.
Archbishop Paul Cremona and the head of the Islamic Centres and Propagation Bureau, Ammar Hreba, began by taking the press to task for what they considered to be a proliferation of unwarranted and one-sided attacks on faith issues. Imam Muhammed el Sadi, head of the Islamic Cultural Centre, said that homosexuality was "unnatural, immoral, unhealthy and fruitless".
Also Present was Archbishop Paul Cremona, who spoke out against secularisation in the West and went on to discuss the role of the family in society, stating his belief that any divergence from or destruction of said institution would have a significantly negative impact upon society and the economy.
Mr Cremona added, "We also need to use the media to promote messages in favour of stability of marriages and family. Many aspects of the media give negative ideas of what true love is."
He went on to assert that marriage was between a man and a woman. In marriage, he said, a couple promised to honour, love and respect each other "till death do them part".
Mr Hreba was blunt about his views on same-sex marriage, saying, "If we neglect our religion based on the negative direction of the media, this will lead to violence. If we let the family collapse, there will be catastrophe and destruction.
"Same-sex marriage destroys the entity of the family which began with Adam and Eve." Curiously, he was also keen to emphasise the importance of "tolerance" and dialogue between religions and cultures.
After the press conference, the rest of the discussion took place in private, where the delegates were joined by theologians. According to timesofmalta.com, sources said the concluding statement described the family as a natural institution between man and woman.
[Click here to view the comments on the Pink News' website.]
25.6.10 By MIRIAM DALLI
Activists deplored the 'marriage of convenience' at the Muslim-Catholic seminar that 'hurt thousands' in same-sex relationships
The Malta Humanist Association and the Malta Gay Rights Movement have expressed their concerns at statements made by religious leaders on homosexuality
In a joint statement, the two groups said they were deeply concerned by statements issued yesterday by Archbishop Paul Cremona and Ammar Hreba, head of the Islamic Centre and Propagation Bureau, at a joint Muslim-Catholic seminar organised by the World Islamic Call Society.
The MHA and MGRM say they are in favour of inter-cultural dialogue, but reports of this seminar "suggested a ‘marriage of convenience’ between Malta’s two largest religious denominations, specifically to propagate views on marriage and human sexuality which both the MHA and MGRM consider to be inherently flawed."
The associations said that it was alarming that such influential institutions "should use their combined strength to prevent couples of the same gender from marrying, simply because of an ancient myth about a man, a woman and a talking snake."
Quotes attributed to Cremona and Hreba suggest that the local Catholic and Muslim community leaders incline towards a literal interpretation of the Creation myth from their respective Scriptures. The Malta Humanist Association rejected "interpretations which disregard all scientific knowledge on the subject of humanity’s origins, that such distortions are used for political ends, in order to influence legislation that affects the private lives of thousands of people."
Both associations deemed it "regrettable" that religious leaders like Hreba would resort to such alarmist language with regard to same-sex unions. Hreba was quoted as saying: “if we let the family collapse, there will be catastrophe and destruction. Same-sex marriage destroys the entity of the family, which began with Adam and Eve.”
The MHA and MGRM deplored this as an example of hate speech, and urged Hreba to retract the statement and apologise for "the hurt caused to thousands of Maltese citizens currently in same-sex relationships."
The Malta Gay Rights Movement said same-sex marriage is no more a threat to heterosexual couples and straight families than space exploration or deep sea diving. "It is regrettable that the focus should be on same-sex marriage, rather than on the real threat to families of all shapes and sizes, that is: poverty, poor parenting, inadequate housing, low educational aspirations and attainment; poor mental health, child abuse, domestic violence and unemployment, among others."
"The Malta Humanist Association finds it strange that the Church would cite only ‘divorce’ and ‘polygamy’ as examples of areas where it disagrees with Islam. It argued that one would have thought the Church founded by Christ would also object - as Christ did - to the death penalty for adultery (which Sharia law applies only in the case of women), as well as for atheism and apostasy - a state of fact which flies in the face of decency, and also blatantly breaches fundamental human rights."
The MHA and MGRM said these are a few of the many issues the local Catholic Church appears to have overlooked in its current dialogue with the Muslim community. The MHA and MGRM say that they hope this is not an indication of the direction Malta’s majority religion intends to take in future.
The Malta Humanist Association and the Malta Gay Rights Movement are deeply concerned by statements issued yesterday by Archbishop Paul Cremona and Ammar Hreba, head of the Islamic Centre and Propagation Bureau, at a joint Muslim-Catholic seminar organised by the World Islamic Call Society.
The MHA and MGRM are all in favour of inter-cultural dialogue, but reports of this seminar suggest a ‘marriage of convenience’ between Malta’s two largest religious denominations, specifically to propagate views on marriage and human sexuality which both the MHA and MGRM consider to be inherently flawed.
From a humanist perspective, it is alarming that such influential institutions should use their combined strength to prevent couples of the same gender from marrying, simply because of an ancient myth about a man, a woman and a talking snake.
Quotes attributed to Cremona and Hreba suggest that the local Catholic and Muslim community leaders incline towards a literal interpretation of the Creation myth from their respective Scriptures. The Malta Humanist Association - being an organisation rooted in the principles of science and rationality – cannot but reject interpretations which disregard all scientific knowledge on the subject of humanity’s origins: especially when such distortions are used for political ends, in order to influence legislation that affects the private lives of thousands of people.
It is also regrettable that religious leaders (Hreba in particular) would resort to such alarmist language with regard to same-sex unions. Hreba was quoted as saying: “if we let the family collapse, there will be catastrophe and destruction. Same-sex marriage destroys the entity of the family, which began with Adam and Eve.”
The MHA and MGRM both strongly deplore this as an example of hate speech, and urge Hreba to retract the statement and apologise for the hurt caused to thousands of Maltese citizens currently in same-sex relationships.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement further holds that same-sex marriage is no more a threat to heterosexual couples and straight families than space exploration or deep sea diving. It is regrettable that the focus should be on same-sex marriage, rather than on the real threat to families of all shapes and sizes, that is: poverty, poor parenting, inadequate housing, low educational aspirations and attainment; poor mental health, child abuse, domestic violence and unemployment, among others.
Furthermore, the Malta Humanist Association finds it strange that the Church would cite only ‘divorce’ and ‘polygamy’ as examples of areas where it disagrees with Islam. One would have thought the Church founded by Christ would also object - as Christ did - to the death penalty for adultery (which Sharia law applies only in the case of women), as well as for atheism and apostasy - a state of fact which flies in the face of decency, and also blatantly breaches fundamental human rights.
These are a few of the many issues the local Catholic Church appears to have overlooked in its current dialogue with the Muslim community. The MHA and MGRM sincerely hope this is not an indication of the direction Malta’s majority religion intends to take in future.
For further information:
The Malta Humanist Association (www.maltahumanist.org)
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (www.maltagayrights.org)
Muslim and Catholic preachers yesterday discussed the role of the family in a globalised society, uniting against same-sex marriages and the "negative" media but disagreeing on divorce and polygamy.
Journalists were only allowed to sit in for the seminar's opening speeches by Archbishop Paul Cremona and the head of the Islamic Centres and Propagation Bureau, Ammar Hreba, who both chastised the press for its promulgation of negative ideas.
In a paper prepared and presented by Imam Muhammed el Sadi, homosexuality was lambasted as "unnatural, immoral, unhealthy and fruitless" while divorce was described as something Islam "does not like" and therefore allows "only" twice.
"For divorce to be valid it should be based on true intention. A forced divorce is not valid nor that of an intoxicated or an enraged person. The divorce should not take place during the woman's monthly period or her period of purity if the husband has sexual relations with her," the Muslim leader's paper read.
Mgr Cremona said: "Most countries in the West are secularised, if not secularist. This means the Church has to convince society of the importance of family."
He said the destruction of a family affected the state negatively, even in economic terms, while stable relationships gave a great contribution, especially through the upbringing of children.
Mgr Cremona called on the state to help prepare couples for marriage, particularly because so many were choosing to get married civilly.
"We also need to use the media to promote messages in favour of stability of marriages and family. Many aspects of the media give negative ideas of what true love is."
He stressed that marriage was between a man and a woman where each was a gift from God to the other. In marriage, a couple promised to honour, love and respect each other "till death do them part".
Mr Hreba was even more critical of the media and homosexuality.
"If we neglect our religion based on the negative direction of the media, this will lead to violence. If we let the family collapse, there will be catastrophe and destruction. Same-sex marriage destroys the entity of the family which began with Adam and Eve," he said, emphasising the importance of tolerance and dialogue between religions and cultures.
Mario Farrugia Borg, a member of the World Islamic Call Society Malta branch, which organised the seminar, pointed out that Muslims and Catholics had "so much in common" regarding their views on the family.
Despite the "new challenges which did not exist 30 and 40 years ago", the fact that the Catholic and Muslim communities were meeting to discuss this issue was a positive sign, he noted.
A number of theologians from both faiths were present for the rest of the discussion which was held behind closed doors and focused on four papers, including the one written by the Imam. Sources said their concluding statement described the family as a natural institution between man and woman but did not say it was a permanent bond.
Excerpts from paper by Imam Muhammed El Sadi.
• No human society can ever manage without the family system, which organises the relations between men and women for posterity.
• In Islamic law, there is absolutely no room for same-sex marriages... they contradict the family values and endanger the family system.
• Adultery leads to the birth of illegitimate children, causes fatal diseases and abortion.
• Islam's attitude towards the family and the legislation of divorce and polygamy may seem contradictory but in fact these support the family system if carried out properly and justly. Polygamy means forming a new family and providing care for another woman. Divorce means forming a new, stable family instead of the former broken one.
• Islam does not like divorce and tries to prevent it in different ways and considers it only when there are no chances to avoid it as a necessity, not as a privilege.
• Islam permits polygamy to solve some social problems like the presence of many widows and orphans after war and cases of barren women and those who fail to satisfy the sexual need of their husbands.
• Men must provide for their families... he uses his reason more than emotion and has more experience in life affairs due to his various wide connections with people and businesses. This leadership of the family in no way means that man is the master and the woman his slave; rather, it means more responsibility, care and service towards the family.
• Islam obliges the husband to maintain his wife and children completely. The wife is not obliged to work or share financial burdens of the family.
• The main job of the wife is to care for her home, husband and children. The husband should consult his wife, advise her to be a better Muslim and satisfy her sexual needs.
• Globalisation imposes pressure on all religions to change certain teachings in order to satisfy certain international charters and groups. (But) we cannot change the teachings of God or update them... We believe the laws of God are perfect.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website. More comments can be found here.]
Over 50 years ago, back in 1959, heavyweight sociologist Ralph Dahrendorf said that "the pluralism of free societies... is based on recognition and acceptance of social conflict. In a free society, conflict may have lost much of its intensity and violence but it is still there and it is there to stay. For freedom in society means, above all, that we recognise the justice and the creativity of diversity, difference and conflict".
More recently, contemporary social theorist Chantal Mouffe emphasises that opposing political projects can never be reconciled. As she puts it, democratic politics is, by necessity, adversarial. She therefore criticises those who reduce politics to a set of "supposedly technical moves and neutral procedures". Hence, there is no such thing as one monolithic or true identity.
Can this be applied to Malta? We are surely a democratic society. Yet, are diversity and difference recognised by Malta's political actors and state institutions? Some recent examples will shed light on this.
Take the case of Forum - the Forum of Trade Unions. This organisation is made up of trade unions that represent thousands of workers, such as University academics, teachers, bankers, engineers, architects, nurses, Air Malta pilots and cabin crew, employees of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority and other professional workers. One would expect such a huge interest group to be represented in Malta's Council for Economic and Social Development alongside other representatives of employers and workers. Yet, the government and others keep refusing to include them. As things stand, employers have five representatives within the MCESD while workers' unions have four.
Another example which is surely not in synch with the pluralism of free societies is the arraignment of Mark Camilleri and Alex Vella Gera for their respective roles as editor and author of an explicit article in the radical newspaper Realtà. It is unacceptable that in a democratic European society authors are persecuted for their work. Using this logic, the next step would be to start emptying bookshelves at our libraries for literature not deemed fit by the authorities. This attitude is reminiscent of authoritarian and confessional societies.
Diversity and difference are surely not key actions in Malta's official social policy, although lip service is often paid to them. Indeed, our social policy is mostly based around the idea of the traditional two-parent family at the exclusion of all other family forms. The absence of rights such as divorce and LGBT rights (such as recognition of same-sex civil partnerships) is a clear example in this regard. An inclusive social policy should be universal in scope while being inclusive of particular identities. Recognition of diversity and difference should not simply be rhetorical slogans for propaganda purposes!
When it comes to applying Prof. Dahrendorf's thoughts to political parties in Malta, one cannot ignore the Nationalist and Labour duopoly. They are busy scratching each others' backs, granting themselves excessive privileges and power while doing their utmost to exclude all other political parties from Parliament. Whilst depicting themselves as "European", the PN and the PL fail to recognise the fact that all countries in Europe, including micro-states such as San Marino, have more than two parties in Parliament.
The Gonzi proposals in the 1990s for a five-per cent threshold of votes on a national basis for parliamentary representation were never put in place. To make matters worse, Malta's unique electoral system has been changed in a way that only strengthens the two-party duopoly. The cherry has now been put on the cake following Labour's infantile decision to stop participating in the parliamentary select committee which discusses electoral reform.
In the meantime, Alternattiva Demokratika - the Green party has proposed a fair and responsible electoral system, which I had the opportunity to discuss in previous writings in this newspaper. Suffice to say that such a system would be similar to that of highly-developed democracies such as Germany. Given that no progress has been made on this issue, last Monday we presented a judicial protest on the matter. We also discussed the issue with the new Speaker of the House, Michael Frendo.
Malta's situation is indeed quite unique. Deep down, many of us know that having a more representative Parliament can result in more democracy and recognition of difference and diversity. Many would like to vote for the Green Party to help bring about such changes. But the PN/PL duopoly successfully transmits the message that a vote for the Greens is wasted. They are not unique in this strategy: it has also been tried in Italy and the UK. Some voters do not want a particular party in power, so they vote against it by voting for the other major party. Others feel disenchanted and do not vote at all or end up voting for a big party as they feel that the PN and the PL's hold on the political system is too massive to be changed. In the end, we are all united in mediocrity. The status quo is retained. What a paradox!
The Green paradox is such that, irrespective of the odds against the Greens, it is only by voting Green that one can hope for change towards everyday democracy, where diversity and difference are recognised as the bloodline of freedom and not stifled or ignored. It is useless hoping for the PN or the PL to actually cater for all as this is a contradiction in terms, just like Labour's "moderate" and "'progressive" oxymoron. For example, one cannot expect the PN or the PL to be truly "green" if they are hell-bent towards an ideology of endless development and are they themselves dependent on unaccountable party financing by big business interests. Similarly, Green politics cannot cater for all. But we are clear in our vision. For us sustainable development, civil rights, social justice and a healthy economy are key principles.
In short, recognition of diversity and difference do not come automatically. It is actually dangerous to brush away diversity and difference by assuming that we all have one common or true culture or identity. Political antagonism is essential for such advances. Green sells... but who's buying?
[Click on the hyperlink at the top to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Thursday, 17 June 2010
MaltaToday: Beyond the porn debate, It’s cool and easy to defend the progressive agenda from Vassallo’s Jurassic views
17.6.10 by James Debono
Various young progressives have taken veteran labour MP Adrian Vassallo to task for his stand on porn. It is so cool and easy to defend the progressive agenda from Vassallo’s Jurassic views. Even a mainstream, level-headed conservative would feel a sense of embarrassment by Vassallo’s persistence on fighting windmills.
But he is easy prey for the young Turks who fully know that the leadership is on their side on this issue.
What is lacking in the Labour Party are young people with the stamina to question more fundamental issues like the party’s views on the economy, fiscal policy and a civil rights agenda, which includes issues which are mainstream in Europe but anathema even to the present progressive leadership.
Labour may have its LBTG section but is anyone discussing gay marriages?
And with all this talk on progressive agenda, only one young Labour party member I know of had the moral courage to question the Labour Party’s immigration policy.
And as regards the environment, Labour might have a very competent spokesperson but a wider discussion is expected on the fundamental choices it has to make on waste, energy and land use issues... not to mention hunting and tuna penning. Any progressive dare raises his voice against the vested interests in this sector?
While I am averse to anything with the smell of old Labour, I still would like to see a discussion in Labour on wealth redistribution through pragmatic and non-authoritarian approaches. Anyone dare proposes a tax on vacant properties?
Is anybody in Labour discussing progressive fiscal policies like Tony Blair’s windfall tax on privatized companies or the Lib-Con commitment to subsidize tax reductions for lower-income people through a rise in capital gains tax on second homes?
And what about electoral reform? Are the young progressives happy with a system which creates the need for people like Adrian Vassallo to ensure that both parties can attract votes across the entire political spectrum? Is this not the root of our zero-sum politics?
In many ways Maltese youth politics has degenerated from the Mintoff vs Eddie years.
Perhaps the harsher political climate did contribute to this. Back then, both parties had a vibrant left-wing orbiting around them with a solid political agenda. Many of these later joined the establishment but at least they had a short spell of idealism.
Even more worrying is the drift to the hard right by many young PN activists in SDM which once stood on the left of the party.
It seems that with some few exceptions who tend to join groups like Graffitti and later drift into AD, many tend to jump directly on the official bandwagon towards a political career.
The government in Spain's Catalonia region said it was investigating a clinic in Barcelona that is allegedly offering treatments to "cure" homosexuality.
The Policlinica Tibidabo in the Catalan capital is offering pills and psychiatric treatment to "convert" homosexuals, Spain's leading daily El Pais reported.
Many of those coming for treatment are followers of a particular religion who believe homosexuality is incompatible with their beliefs, it said.
"An investigation has been opened into this clinic," said an official for the regional government's health department.
"We do not consider homosexuality as an illness, far from it."
She said the clinic could face fines if the month-long probe concludes that such treatments are being carried out.
A gays and lesbian rights association in Catalonia, the CGL, hailed the decision of the regional authorities.
"It is totally unacceptable, in the 21st century, that health professionals are trying to treat homosexuality," CGL secretary general Antonio Guirado said in a statement.
"You cannot treat something that is not an illness."
Homosexuality was only legalised in Spain in 1979, shortly after the death of dictator Francisco Franco whose regime shipped off gays to institutions that some activists have likened to concentration camps.
The Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has sought to promote gay rights as part of a strongly liberal social agenda.
In 2005 it passed a law to allow same-sex marriages, making Spain only the third member of the European Union, after Belgium and The Netherlands, to do so.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Today the European Parliament adopted a strong position in favour of safeguarding transgender people's fundamental rights. The Parliament officially acknowledged discrimination on grounds of gender identity, calls for accessible gender reassignment procedures, and insists future EU gender equality initiatives should address issues linked to gender identity and gender reassignment.
The Figueiredo report (final version in preparation at the time of writing) evaluating the European Union's 2006-2010 Roadmap for equality between women and men was adopted today, and calls for more explicit measures to combat discrimination based on gender identity. In particular, the report:
- acknowledges discrimination and multiple discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity;
- calls on EU authorities to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations in future work on gender equality;
- stresses that gender reassignment procedures should be made accessible, including through public health insurance schemes; and
- requires that future EU actions in the field of gender equality explicitly cover issues linked to gender identity and gender reassignment.
Ulrike Lunacek and Michael Cashman MEPs, Co-presidents of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, declared: "We are glad this report was adopted, it represents a true milestone for improving the EU record on gender equality for all―including transgender citizens. It states clearly that gender equality strategies must explicitly address issues linked to gender identity, and thus sets a clear position on transgender people's fundamental rights in the future."
Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP, Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup and Member of the Greens/European Free Alliance, further added: "The European Parliament showed today that the rights of transgender people are of no less importance than other citizens'. It sent a strong signal, and I trust the Commission will follow our lead and start addressing discrimination based on gender identity more explicitly."
The European Commission will need to take this report into account when planning future actions in the field of gender equality.
Thursday, 17th June 2010 by Ranier Fsadni
In contemporary Malta, many public debates concern questions of justice. Except that it is not often that they are recognised as such.
Who should have the right to marry? Is there a point where my neighbour's property rights infringe upon my right to a clean environment or traditional village core? Should limits be placed on applications of biotechnology? These questions all concern justice, quite as much as our arguments over utility hikes and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority's transparency.
They may also involve questions of aesthetics, morality and religion. But, since they include resolving matters concerning access to social institutions and the value of public goods, they are also about justice.
Instead, they tend to be reduced to matters of expertise, taste, logic or partisan politics and clericalism.
Several reasons explain the reductionism. There are the usual prime suspects: the mass media and the market inevitably shape the message. Complex issues need considerable simplification given broadcasting constraints and competition.
Besides, the views of experts, aesthetes, logicians, politicians and clerics do and should carry weight in their own right. Reductionism occurs when the dimension of justice is not recognised.
Another reason has to do with the degradation of the notion of common good, often invoked but also misused. It has come to be, in many contexts, a euphemism for utilitarianism, that is, the maximisation of welfare for the greatest number.
In a society dominated by the market and economism (a doctrinaire creed in free markets) and where political parties scrabble for individual votes (having already convinced themselves that the common good is indubitably served by their being in government), one can see why utilitarianism wins out.
However, as philosophers like Michael Sandel have argued, utilitarianism makes justice a matter of calculation not principle. The slide towards calculation may well help explain why matters of justice often are transmuted into questions of expertise.
The issue, once again, is not that experts do not have something important to say. If we are concerned with a just distribution of access to the institution of marriage, expertise can be useful in telling you what permitting divorce (that is, remarriage) might do to the welfare distribution system. But it cannot tell you what the purpose of that social institution - what it ought to value and reward - should be.
Nor should anyone... if justice is to win out: This, at least, is the final major reason I would list in explaining why matters of justice remain unrecognised. The idea that justice, properly speaking, should be neutral about values.
The idea forms a major strand of western political thought. It is particularly associated with liberalism and its emphasis on freedom of choice. Justice has to do, on this view, with guaranteeing the right process in which individuals make their choices.
That view goes on: No one, certainly not the state, should be anything less than neutral, however, about the right way of valuing things. It should certainly not engage moral issues.
As an understanding of justice, the liberal view (in various permutations) is acquiring greater force in Maltese public discourse. In some cases, it is enough to express one's dissatisfaction with it to be labelled a conservative (never a compliment in Malta).
Once again, Michael Sandel is helpful in showing why the idea of neutrality on public issues is untenable and why the connection with social progress is tenuous.
Take divorce (that is, legalising remarriage after separation) or gay marriage. It is not possible to argue why they should be permitted without (explicitly or implicitly) deciding what marriage honours and who should be included in its rewards. That is not morally neutral.
Indeed, when gay marriage campaigners compare "marriage equality" to the campaign for racial equality in the US, they are drawing attention to a campaign that was not afraid to engage the very immorality of racial segregation laws. The liberalism (in the broad sense) of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr went hand in hand with a moral rhetoric about what kind of life was best for human flourishing.
Such civic engagement is again pressing in the contemporary world, perhaps especially so in Malta. Our lives are being shaped by three major drivers of change: climate and sustainable development, urbanisation and bio-engineering. We cannot live with the consequences of these transformations by being neutral about lifestyle preferences.
Should we accept them (any of them, take your pick) as they are? What if that lifestyle has consequences for the sustainability of our own?
An argument over what is just requires our civic engagement to recognise and take up issues of morality.
To do that, of course, requires challenging some major assumptions that are widespread. One is that it is civic-minded to ignore the religious and moral convictions of our fellow citizens. Another is that morality has to do primarily with sex and family.
Above all, we need to get used to the idea that it is a necessary part of justice - of what we owe each other - that we reason with each other.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
(Reuters) - Iceland, the only country in the world to have an openly gay head of state, passed a law on Friday allowing same-sex partners to get married in a vote which met with no political resistance.
The Althingi parliament voted 49 to zero to change the wording of marriage legislation to include matrimony between "man and man, woman and woman," in addition to unions between men and women.
Iceland, a socially tolerant island nation of about 320,000 people, became the first country to elect an openly gay head of state in 2009 when Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister after being nominated by her party.
"The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic," said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. "It (gay marriage) has not been a big issue in national politics -- it's not been controversial."
The prime minister's sexual orientation garnered far more interest among foreign media than in Iceland, where the attitude toward homosexuality has grown increasingly relaxed in the past two or three decades, Kristinsson added.
Iceland's protestant church has yet to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in church, although the law says "ministers will always be free to perform (gay) marriage ceremonies, but never obliged to."
The largely protestant countries of northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark, have all endorsed some form of civil union between same-sex couples, but the issue creates more controversy in Mediterranean Catholic nations.
In the United States, gay marriage remains a frought political issue, with laws varying widely from state to state. Vermont was the first state to allow same-sex civil unions in 1999, followed by Massachusetts and Connecticut and others.
(Reporting Birna Bjornsdottir and Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Noah Barkin)