Sunday, 17 July 2011

Malta Star: I am Pride, but am I equal?
10 July 2011 10:10

"I don't think it's a matter of being camp, I think it's a matter of being proud of who you are and not being afraid to show it" says Simon, a gay man who attended yesterday's Pride March.

"It's not as though we'd like to be positively discriminated against- we just want to be considered equal to any other straight couple" says his partner Thomas.

These were some of the comments of a number of individuals who attended yesterday's Gay Pride March. Speaking to a number of people who attended yesterday's march, one could pick up that there was a consensus amongst all those who attended which recognizes that, as a society, we have come a long way since the decriminalization of homosexuality by the Labour Government of 1973.

On that day, the 29th of January 1973, 28 Labour deputies voted in favour of removing the criminalization of homosexuality from the Criminal Code. 26 deputies from the other side of the bench voted against.

Today, 38 years later, many people from the Gay community believe that there is a long road ahead, especially in legal terms.

"We seem to live in a culture which accepts us as same sex couples. In general it is frowned upon within our society to be anti-gay or homophobic. Recent events, which were made public thanks to the media, have shown us that the vast majority of the public is on our side," said Rachel, a 23 year old lesbian, referring to the recent media frenzy over Evangelical Pastor Gordon John Manche and his "Gay no more, healed by the power of Christ" meetings- where he allegedly heals homosexuality through spirituality.

"Although some people might not be 'ok' with our sexuality- there is a national consensus that this is now something that everyone has to accept. We're here to stay, and nothing can change the way we are," Rachel went on to state explaining how she believes that homosexuality is no longer taboo .

"But this still isn't enough. Although society accepts my existence- it still finds difficulty in granting me the same rights as everyone else. I'm not asking for anything special- I don't want to be given special treatment and I do not need to be positively discriminated against. My sexuality is not a physical impediment, I don't need extra rights to get by- I just want to have the same rights as everyone else."

Asked if by this she meant the state allowing homosexuals to adopt children, Rachel is surprisingly skeptical about the subject.

"I don't necessarily mean allowing homosexuals to adopt children- the truth is, as a lesbian I would love this, and this is what I deserve as an individual- the right to start my own family. However, the problem isn't me- it's society. Our society will never accept the fact that two women or two men bringing up a child is the same as a single parent bringing up a child. There's only one gender present- but hey, at least there are two of us right? But society would never accept this- they would bully my child for having 'two mommies'. We live in a culture where parents wouldn't be ready to teach their children that 'it's ok to be gay' and it's ok to have parents of the same sex."

Rachel goes on to explain that as a Maltese citizen, she does not believe that Malta will be introducing Gay marriage any time soon.

"Recently there's been a lot of talk about civil partnerships," she said referring to Labour Leader Joseph Muscat's statements about the introduction of Civil partnerships for same sex couples, "and I'm so grateful that someone important is even considering the idea. You see- we are still a minority, and although we have a very strong base and a movement which continuously defends us and our rights, it's nice to know that someone who has political clout has noticed us. We been ignored for so long- and something like that gives us hope," she concluded.

Some 400 people attended yesterday's Pride March in Valletta. Present for the March were a number of Labour Party officials, amongst them Labour MP Evarist Bartolo- who gave a short speech for the occasion.

Dr. Joseph Muscat, Leader of the Labour Party attended the protest and spent his time listening to what different individuals had to say about a number of issues with regards to the rights of homosexual persons.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on Malta Star's website.]

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