18.5. 2011 by Scott Grech
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) yesterday joined a host of other countries worldwide in marking the International Day against Homophobia, which is held on 17 May every year.
A handful of MGRM members congregated in front of the Law Courts in Valletta and handed out carnations to passers-by, most of whom were pleasantly surprised with their gift, although some expressed their annoyance about the whole activity, with one youngster overheard telling his friend how ridiculous it all was.
27-year-old Bernard Muscat, the MGRM’s spokesman, said that the movement decided to mark the day the same way it had done the previous year.
“Last year, 300 carnations were given out by the movement’s members and accepted by passers-by in under one hour, and a lot of positive reactions were received.
“One woman had come up to me and said that she will keep the carnation and place it on her son’s bed. She said she knows that her son is gay although he has never told her so, because she feels he is too frightened to come out.
“Although the gay community still suffers from negative perceptions, sometimes we feel that there is only a small segment of the Maltese population whose views on gays verge on the homophobic.
“There is nothing wrong in being gay, just as there is nothing wrong with people, for instance, who are left-handed or who have blue eyes. We are all equal. Malta, just like a lot of other countries, has moved on when it comes to recognising its gay population, although more could be done,” Mr Muscat said.
Elaborating further, he said that while the movement estimates that around 6 to 7% of the Maltese population is gay, it is “offensive that couples of the same sex are still not recognised in Malta. Moreover, the movement also feels that homophobia in schools could be tackled further, since there are several children who are regularly subjected to bullying because they might be homosexual.”
However, according to a new report released yesterday by gay-rights group ILGA-Europe to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Malta is the second-least gay-friendly EU country, with Cyprus being the first.
Malta was praised for its anti-discrimination legislation, with regard to sexual orientation in employment; the existence of legal/administrative procedures for the legal gender recognition of trans people; and the fact that Pride events took place with authorisation.
But these points were then cancelled by the fact there is no legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, legal gender recognition of transsexual people only after compulsory divorce and/or compulsory sterilisation.