Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Times: Zero points in gay equality league
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 , by Nikki Abela Mercieca

Saying it with flowers: People walking down Republic Street in Valletta, yesterday, were greeted with red and white carnations by members of the Malta Gay Rights Movement, which marked International Day Against Homophobia. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

A European gay rights organisation has awarded Malta zero points out of 17 on respect for human rights and legal equality of gays.

Although Malta was not the only EU country with such a low position, with Cyprus even scoring a negative number (-2), it is a long way from countries like Great Britain which scored 12.5.
The rankings were given by the European branch of ILGA (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) on a scale of between 17 and -7. No country in Europe was awarded full points.

The table shames countries over their laws and administrative practices in 24 categories.
These include respect of freedom of assembly and association of LGBT people, inclusion of the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in anti-discrimination and anti-hatred laws, existence of legal gender recognition for trans people and legal recognition of same-sex couples, parenting rights, as well as equality of age of consent for same-sex sexual acts.

The rankings were released on the International Day Against Homophobia yesterday, when people walking down Republic Street in Valletta were surprised to be greeted by free red and white carnations from the Malta Gay Rights Movement.

Members of the movement gathered in front of the law courts distributing flowers and spreading the word that expressing hatred against gay people was embarrassing for all those involved.
Passers-by were also invited to write a message on the two blackboards erected on site, under the sign "One thing I can do for equality is..."

The movement was also celebrating the 10th year since its inception. "In MGRM's 10 years of activism, there have been improvements in some areas but there's always more work to be done," MGRM spokesman Bernard Muscat said.

Unfortunately, gay people still faced challenges. It was offensive that the state still did not recognise same-sex relationships, he said.

Homophobia in schools needed to be tackled actively. Children needed a safe environment to learn and it was imperative that gay youngsters were not picked on.

People of all sexual orientations gathered in front of the Love Statue in St Julian to kiss as a sign against intolerance. "How come only straight people feel they can kiss in public without annoying anyone?" the event on Facebook questioned.

Today the anti-homophobia theme continues with a peaceful protest outside the River of Love Fellowship in Mdina Road, Żebbuġ at 6 p.m. The protest is against pastor Gordon-John Manché's gathering, which 10 days ago presented testimonies of three "converted homosexuals".
MGRM said efforts aimed at changing a person's sexual preferences were not only useless but very harmful to the person's self-worth in that they were made to believe that there was something wrong with who they were.

Yesterday, the Evangelical Alliance of Malta (made up of 14 Evangelical churches) expressed regret at any unintentional offense caused to the gay rights movement through the public sharing of three members in the River of Love community, "who were convicted by the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit to turn away from a homosexual lifestyle". However, it said it did not see any cause for a demonstration by gay rights activists.

It agreed with freedom of expression as long as that freedom did not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others.

The alliance said the converted individuals had the right to express their joy at how they were changed by an encounter with the love of Christ in any way they felt appropriate as long as this did not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others.

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

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