Is-Sibt, 29 ta’ Jannar 2011
Xarabank 30.1.2009 L-Omosesswali u l-Knisja.
L-E.T. Arċisqof Mons. Cremona jgħid li persuni gay f'relazzjoni ma jiġux impjegati fil-Knisja jekk ma jaħbux ir-relazzjoni tagħhom. Anki nies isseparati li qed joħorġu ma' persuna oħra ma jingħatawx impieg.
Mgr. Anton Gouder
Gaby Calleja, MGRM
Stanley Cassar Darien.
France's top constitutional watchdog has upheld laws banning gay marriage.
However, though the Constitutional Council said the ban does not violate the constitution, it said it is up to the country's parliament to make laws.
The decision leaves an opening for amendments in the future - and hope for two women who had challenged the French civil code's stipulation that marriage must be between a man and a woman.
Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have lived together for 15 years and have four children, have challenged the constitutionality of the country's law on banning gay marriage.
The couple and advocacy group Act Up Paris hoped France would soon join EU partners including Spain, Belgium and Netherlands that have legalised same-sex marriage.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
The next National Census will include migrants for the first time, while breaking taboos on cohabitation, same-sex couples and other ‘bedroom business’ as NSO director-general Michael Pace Ross explains.
For the first time ever, migrants are to be included in the National Census to be held later this year, and which will also go into the legal marital status of individuals, and the relationships between household members.
The National Census is set to start during the last quarter of the year, and aims to obtain comprehensive data on population and housing, with statistics on demographic, social and economic characteristics of persons, families and households, as well as data on housing at a national, regional and local level.
Michael Pace Ross, director-general at the National Statistics Office (NSO), explains that it will be carried on a door-to-door basis and warns of stiff penalties should people refuse to reply or supply false answers.
When is the National Census set to start and how long will it take?
A committee has been set up to coordinate the planning and execution of the Census.
The Coordinating Committee will decide on the Census Day, which will be some time in the last quarter of 2011, and will meanwhile work on the census questionnaire as part of the preparation process. This process also involves the recruitment of enumerators, a pilot study of the questionnaire, training/briefing sessions and public educational campaigns, among others.
Member States are required to provide Eurostat with final, validated and aggregated data by the first quarter of 2014.
The National Census will be held throughout European Union. Will the questions be harmonised?
As such, the questions asked in the Census are not harmonised across the EU.
However, EC Regulation 763/2008 stipulates the topics to be covered in population and housing censuses, and therefore the questions on these topics will not vary so much from one Member State to another.
Member States also have to satisfy the required methodology and adopt best practices.
The collection of statistics would also have to conform to the principles of impartiality, in particular objectivity and scientific independence, as well as transparency, reliability, relevance, cost-effectiveness and statistical confidentiality.
What new or revised questions are expected to be put forward?
This will be one of the topics discussed by the Coordinating Committee.
What are the aims of the new National Census?
To have comprehensive data on population and housing, with statistics on demographic, social and economic characteristics of persons, families and households, as well as data on housing at a national, regional and local level.
In addition, the European Commission needs to be in possession of reliable, detailed and comparable data on population and housing in order to enable it to filfil the tasks assigned to it, and to support various Community activities and policies, such as the promotion of social inclusion and the monitoring of social cohesion at regional level, or the protection of the environment and the promotion of energy efficiency.
Would the National Census ask on cohabiting couples, same-sex partners?
The Census will go into the legal marital status of individuals and also into the relationships between household members.
I am exhausted. I have spent all week trying to brainwash small children into being gay, by relentlessly inserting homosexuality into their maths, geography and science lessons. Their little eyes widened when the gay algebra lesson started, but it worked: their concept of “normal sexual behaviour” has been successfully destroyed. It’s all part of the program brilliantly co-ordinated by the Homintern to imposed The Gay Agenda on Every Aspect of British Life.
That, at least, is what you would believe if you had read some of Britain’s best-selling newspapers this week, or listened to some prominent Tory politicians. The headlines were filled with fury. The Conservative MP Richard Drax said gays were trying to impose “questionable sexual standards” on kids, while the Daily Mail said we were mounting a massive “abuse of childhood.”
Here’s what is actually happening. A detailed study by the Schools Health Education Unit found that in Britain today, 70 percent of gay children get bullied, 41 percent get beaten up, and 17 percent get told at some point in their childhood that they are going to be killed.
I’ll tell you the story of just one of them. Jonathan Reynolds was a 15-year old boy from Bridgend in South Wales who was accused – accurately or not, we’ll never know – of being gay. He was yelled at for being a “faggot” and a “poof”. So one day, he sat a GSCE exam – later graded as an A - and went to the train tracks near his school and lay on them. He texted his sister: “Tell everyone that this is for anybody who eva said anything bad about me, see I do have feelings too. Blame the people who were horrible and injust to me, see I do have feeling too. Blame the people who were horrible and injust to me. This is because of them, I am human just like them. None of you blame yourself, mum, dad, Sam and the rest of the family. This is not because of you.” And then the train killed him.
I guess nobody told Jonathan Reynolds that, as the columnist Melanie Phillips put it, “just about everything in Britain is now run according to the gay agenda.” The great Gay Conquest didn’t make it from her imagination to his playground, or any playground in Britain. Gay kids are six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight siblings. Every week, I get emails from despairing gay kids who describe being thrown against lockers, scorned by their teachers if they complain, and – in some faith schools – told they will burn in Hell. Every day they have to brave playgrounds where the worst insult you can apply is to call something “gay”. They feel totally lost. This could have been your child, or my child, or Melanie Phillips’ child.
Is it “political correctness” and “McCarthyism” to try to ensure these kids can feel safe in their own schools – or is it basic decency? A few very mild proposals were made this week for how to change the attitudes behind this. They came from an excellent organization called Schools Out, which is run with a small grant from the tax-payer. They gave out a voluntary information pack in which they suggested that, to mark LGBT History Month, teachers acknowledge the existence of gay people in their lessons. They could teach in history about how Alan Turing played a vital role in saving the world from the Nazis and paved the way for the invention of the computer, only to be hounded to death for being gay. They could learn in science that homosexuality occurs in hundreds of species of animals. They could – yes! – maybe even look in maths lessons at the census data, figuring out how prevalent gay people are.
We know that these lessons work in making gay kids much safer. The Schools Health Education Unit found that homophobic violence was dramatically lower in schools that taught about homosexuality. Good schools like Stoke Newington Secondary that followed this program were assessed to have “virtually eliminated homophobic bullying.” That has a very powerful educational purpose: when gay kids feel safe, they can learn.
Yet these pragmatic policies to make kids safe were presented as a wicked plot to endanger children. We can’t stop the endemic intimidation and violence if every time there is a policy to do it, it is grossly distorted and demonized in this way. The critics even whispered that gays want to “impose” sexuality on kids – with hints of the ugliest and oldest lie about gay men, that they are paedophiles.
Yet in one strange way, the current backlash is reassuring. When I was a kid in the 1980s, these sentiments were so widespread that a law – Section 28 – was passed to resolve them, and the cowed critics were derided as “the loony left.” Today, the opinion polls show 80 percent of the British people support gay marriage, and the people offering these views are regarded as the loons. It’s worth pausing and saying to all the people who have been open to persuasion and have changed their minds on this question: thank you. It’s incredibly moving to see how many heterosexual people have rallied to the defence of gay people, and it’s a reminder that we will never go back now.
But this anti-equality shouting still has an effect. It stops many schools from pursuing sensible policies that would save kids like Jonathan Reynolds, for fear of being accused of “political correctness gone mad” – so it’s important to answer the arguments now.
These critics don’t appear to understand what homosexuality actually is. In every human society that has ever existed, and ever will, some 3 to 10 percent of the population has wanted to have sex with their own gender. This is a fixed and unchangeable reality. The only choice is whether you are pointlessly cruel to them, or accept their harmless difference. Homosexuality is “normal sexual behaviour”: it occurs wherever human societies exist. It is not engaged in by a majority, but using that logic, Jews and Muslims are “abnormal” in Britain too – an ugly and foolish claim.
Informing children about these facts can’t make them gay. Nothing can. You can no more teach a child homosexuality than you can teach them left-handedness. Oddly, the homophobes seem to understand this about their own sexuality, but not about other people’s. I once asked Michael Howard, the architect of Section 28, if he would be gay now if he had been taught to be as a child. He moved very anxiously in his seat and mumbled something incoherent.
In order to justify their desire to discriminate against gay people, the few remaining homophobes have concocted a scenario where they are The Real Victims. They can say what they want, set up churches or mosques that preach what they want, and turn away gay people from their homes every day of the week if they so desire – and I would defend every one of those rights to the last ditch. There is only one thing they can’t do. They can’t choose to offer a service to the general public, and then turn people away on the basis of race or sexuality. They can’t put up de facto signs saying ‘No blacks, no Irish, no gays’ at their B&B.
This isn’t a form of prejudice – it is a way of preventing prejudice. Nobody will ever force you to work in a registry office or open a B&B, but if you choose to, you can’t reject the gay couples and expect to remain in post. (In one case where this happened, they offered her a job in the office instead, but she chose to be a bizarre cause célèbre of prejudice instead.) Services for the general public have to be available without contamination by bigotry. It’s a simple principle. Don’t demand the right to spit in the face of gay people, and claim you’re being picked on when you’re asked to stop.
Yes, I know your religious texts mandate bigotry against gay people. They also mandate slavery and stoning adulterers, and they laud a God who feeds small children to bears (see II Kings ii, 23-24). As secular morality has evolved, you have managed to overcome those beliefs. Here’s another that has to catch up. If you are really going to defend Biblical or Koranic literalism, you’ll end up as Stephen Green, head of the tiny Christian Voice sect, who argues that there is biblical authority for the legalisation of rape by husbands. So febrile is the atmosphere in Uganda that David Kato, the incredibly brave campaigner for gay equality, was just lynched as part of the hate-wave.
When people say that a “deeply held religious conviction” should enable you to break anti-discrimination laws and treat gay people as second class citizens, I reply – what about the Mormons? Until 1975, they believed black people did not have souls. (They only changed their minds when the Supreme Court ruled it illegal, and God conveniently appeared to say they did have souls after all.) Should they have been allowed to run adoption agencies that refused to give babies to black people, because of their “deeply held religious conviction”?
But there is an even lower point in the homophobes’ rhetorical arsenal. Being subjected to bullying and violence as children and teenagers makes gay people unusually vulnerable to depression and despair. The homophobes then use that depression and despair to claim that homosexuality is inherently a miserable state – and we shouldn’t do anything that might “encourage” it. They create misery, and then use it as a pretext to create even more misery.
Yet Melanie Phillips, Richard Drax and the last raging band of homophobes are right about one thing. There is a “Gay Agenda.” They are only wrong about its contents. It has one item on the list, and one item only: to ensure that gay people are treated exactly the same as everybody else. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the sum total of our ambitions. To get there we may – yes – have to mention the existence of gay people in schools. It is the only way to save kids like Jonathan Reynolds, and make sure everyone knows – as he said in his final text, before the train hit – “I am human just like them.”
As a side-note, it’s especially galling to be accused of endangering children by Melanie Phillips, the journalist in Britain who has done more to recklessly endanger children than any other I can think of. She was the leading journalistic champion of the false claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism. She refused to listen to the overwhelming scientific consensus and instead promoted the claims of a fraudster called Andrew Wakefield. After she played a key role in spreading and popularizing his claims, the rate of children being vaccinated plummeted, and several have died.
Even after the British Medical Journal concluded that Wakefield staged an “elaborate fraud”, she has refused to apologise. I’d say persuading parents not to give their kids a life-saving vaccine based on the claims of a charlatan was a bigger “abuse of childhood” than teaching them that gay people exist, wouldn’t you?
Il-Ġimgħa, 28 ta’ Jannar 2011
A Ugandan gay activist whose photo was put on the front page of a newspaper that called for his killing has been brutally beaten to death.
Ugandan police said today that David Kato had been bludgeoned at his home and suffered serious head wounds.
Kato had been receiving death threats since Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper in October listed him among 100 gay Ugandans underneath a headline that read "Hang them."
He and two other activists sued the newspaper and won the case earlier this month.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and a lawmaker introduced a bill in October 2009 that would impose the death penalty for some homosexual acts.
The bill has not come up for a vote.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Il-Ħamis, 27 ta’ Jannar 2011
A Ugandan gay rights campaigner who last year sued a local newspaper which named him as being homosexual has been beaten to death, activists say.
Police have confirmed the death of David Kato but say they are investigating the circumstances.
Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay next to a headline reading "Hang them".
Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, with punishments of 14 years in prison.
An MP recently tried to increase the penalties to include the death sentence in some cases.
Witnesses have told the BBC that a man entered Mr Kato's home near Kampala, and beat him to death before leaving.
His Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) group said Mr Kato had been receiving death threats since his name, photograph and address were published by Rolling Stone last year.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for a swift investigation into his death.
"David Kato's death is a tragic loss to the human rights community," said HRW's Maria Burnett.
He had campaigned against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which appears to have been quietly dropped after provoking a storm of international criticism when it was mooted in 2009.
Following a complaint by Mr Kato and others, a judge in November ordered Rolling Stone to stop publishing the photographs of people it said were homosexual, saying it contravened their right to privacy.
Several activists said they had been attacked after their photographs were published.
Malta should change ballot papers listing candidates’ names in alphabetical order if it wants to elect more women, according to European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek.
Speaking at a civil society meeting at the EP’s offices in Valletta, Prof. Buzek was asked for advice and support on how to increase female participation in politics, an issue he raised on at least two occasions during his short two-day visit.
“If you can, change the alphabetical order on your list,” the former Polish-Prime Minister suggested.
He added: “In my country we have the same problem... The first two, three, four people on the list are elected to Parliament or local Parliament. It is an obligation to have at least one woman among the first three people and to have 50 per cent of candidates on the voting ballot who are women.”
Another step forward, the former Solidarnosc activist said, was to have adequate childcare facilities to cater for working mothers, allowing them easy access to their children so they could spend some time with them.The arrangement of the Latin alphabet has been credited with more influence than electability in the 2009 MEP election.
Nationalist Party MEP candidate Roberta Metsola Tedesco Triccas, who had come close to clinching a seat, had said: “This is an alphabet democracy. The PN had about 20,000 block votes in alphabetical order, so I did not stand a chance. It worked in favour of David Casa but so did the fact that he, like Simon Busuttil, was an incumbent.”
Labour favourite Marlene Mizzi had also lost to John Attard Montalto, and had half-jokingly said, “If your surname does not begin with A, B or C do not run for politics”.
During the civil society meeting, Malta Gay Rights Movement representative Mark Grech asked what would be done on minority rights issues, specifically the recognition of gay civil unions across borders.
Prof. Buzek said this was a “very complicated” matter that had to be resolved “step by step” but that the Hungarian EU presidency would be working on the integration of the Roma people and other minorities. Before this meeting, Prof. Buzek met Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat, who, among other things, discussed the issue of Malta’s sixth seat in the EP.
In a statement, Joseph Cuschieri, who is meant to occupy the sixth EP seat allocated to Malta, called on Prof. Buzek to ensure the EP respected the decision of “almost 20,000 Maltese people who chose me to represent them”.
Prof. Buzek also found, and made, time to meet students taking part in the Mini European Assembly, a programme started in 1989 by NSTF to encourage young people’s political participation.
During the meeting, he encouraged students not to take Europe for granted and reminded them that the “boring, very boring negotiations” that characterised the way the EU worked were replacing the decades of wars by which Europe used to resolve its issues.
While his team stood nervously by the door as the meeting went behind schedule, Prof. Buzek insisted on taking interventions by students.
When a young woman asked for advice on how students could shake off their apathy, he quoted a famous citation: “The punishment for the wise person who is not interested in politics is that he might be governed by people who are worse than them.”
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Adele Markham hija tfajla Ingliża ta' 31 sena li għaddiet minn trawma għax għal 28 sena kienet "imġiegħla" tgħix ta' raġel, mentri hija kienet tħoss li hi mara.
"Xejn speċjali", forsi qiegħed tgħid, "stejjer bħal dawn nisimgħu ta' sikwit". Imma l-każ tagħha huwa xi ftit uniku għax Adele twieldet b'ġeni (gene) żejjed li jagħmilha differenti mill-oħrajn. Gene huwa parti li xi ħaġa ħajja tiret minn ta' qabilha.
Il-ġenituri ġiegħluha taġixxi ta' tifel
Meta twieldet hija ngħatat l-isem Matthew peress li l-parti ġenitali kien dak ta' tifel. Il-ġenituri tagħha kienu kuntenti għax kellhom tifel wara żewġt ibniet.
Imma meta Matthew beda jikber, it-tabib tal-familja beda jinnota ċertu problemi fil-parti ġenitali. Il-ġenituri ħassewhom ixxukkjati meta għarrafhom li binhom ma kienx qiegħed jiżviluppa b'mod normali.
"It-tabib qal lil missieri u ommi li kien se jkolli bżonn ta' operazzjoni meta nikber. Imma huma ma kinux jafu x'ikkawża d-difett fija", issostni t-tfajla.
Adele tgħid li sa minn meta kienet tifel hija kienet tħossha u taġixxi ta' tifla. Kienet tieħu gost tilgħab mal-bniet u minħabba f'hekk il-ġenituri kienu jikkastigawha.
"Il-ġenituri ma riedux jafu. Ma kien hemm ebda raġuni li jaħsbu li ma kontx tifel. Missieri kien jaħsibha b'mod tradizzjonali u kien jistenna li naġixxi bħas-subien u nilgħab il-futbol. Imma jien kont nippreferi nilgħab bil-pupi bħal ħuti".
L-iskola kienet toqgħod mal-bniet u kienet tobgħod l-Edukazzjoni Fiżika (PE) jew kwalunkwe ħaġa oħra fejn kellha tkun f'ambjent tas-subien.
"Ma' ħuti kont close ħafna. Kont neħdilhom il-ħwejjeġ u nilbishom. U missieri tgħidx kemm kien irrabja meta sar jaf b'dan".
Meta għalqet 14-il sena hija kienet għadha ma żviluppatx kif normalment jagħmlu s-subien ta' dik l-età u l-ġenituri ħaduha għand speċjalista biex jaraw kif setgħu jagħmlu lil Adele iktar maskili.
It-tobba qalulhom li jekk jieħu t-testosterone kien se jiżviluppa f'raġel. Kien għalhekk li, fuq ordni tat-tabib, Adele bdiet tingħata pillola kuljum biex tinbidel f'raġel anke jekk kienet imwerwra li se ssir hekk.
Wara ftit tax-xhur Adele bdiet dieħla fil-fażi tal-pubertà. Imma minflok ġisimha beda jieħu x-xejra ta' wieħed maskili beda jinbidel iktar f'dak femminili u minflok pil beda jikber sidirha.
"Ma nafx x'inhi pubertà maskili u dan kompla jsaħħaħli fehmti li jien kont destinata li nkun tfajla".
It-tfajla bdiet tmur għand counseller biex taqsam magħha dak li kienet qiegħda tħoss minn ġewwa għax mill-familja ma kinitx qiegħda ssib għajnuna.
Hija kienet riferuta għal klinika li tgħin persuni li jkollhom problemi dwar is-sesswalità tagħhom, għax ħasbu li bħal ċertu rġiel kienet tħossha mara.
"Spiċċajt kelli diversi infezzjonijiet. Imma ħadd ma qalli biex nagħmel test ġenetiku biex nara kienx hemm xi ħaġa ħażina fija", iżżid tgħid waqt li ssostni li bdiet twaħħal fiha nnifisha għall-problema.
Ta' 16-il sena qaxxret xagħarha u marret Londra fejn bdiet tagħmilha ma' ġuvintur u rġiel gay. Madanakollu xorta ma ħassitx li postha kien hemm.
"Kont konfuża ħafna. Ma ħassejtnix li posti mal-gays, imma fl-istess ħin kont inħossni attirata lejn l-irġiel. Imma xorta ddeċidejt li nipprova ngħix bħala żagħżugħ gay".
Adele bdiet tqatta' diversi sigħat fil-gym biex tibni lilha nnifisha u għamlet tattoo fuq kull id biex tidher iktar maskili. Imma ta' 28 sena rabbiet il-kuraġġ u ddeċidiet li ma tibqax tgħix gidba, imma tmur tara tabib u tgħidlu kif kienet qiegħda tħossha.
"Kien veru dħuli. Spjegali kif matul is-snin saru avvanzi kbar kif wieħed jifhem l-identità sesswali tal-bniedem. U għamilli diversi testijiet biex jara jekk verament kellix nibdel id-dehra tiegħi".
Ġimgħa wara Adele ċemplet lit-tabib biex tara r-riżultat u hemmhekk ħadet dak li tfisser bħala "xokk". It-tabib spjegalha li hija kellha dak li jissejjaħ Klinefelter's syndrome … fi kliem ieħor hija la kienet raġel u lanqas mara imma taħlita ta' tnejn.
F'diskors sempliċi, waqt li persuna tas-sess femminil ikollha dak li jissejjaħ XX chromosone u dik tas-sess maskil XY chromosone, il-persuni li jkollhom il-Klinefelter's syndrome ikollhom XXY chromosones.
Fil-bnedmin din il-kundizzjoni hija l-iktar waħda komuni fil-persuni li jkollhom diżordni fil-kromozoni sesswali tagħhom. Il-kundizzjoni tinstab f'raġel minn kull 1,000 waqt li raġel minn kull 500 jkollu X chromosone żejjed, imma ma jkollux il-kundizzjoni. Hemm mammali oħra li wkoll għandhom dan is-sindromu fosthom il-ġrieden.
L-effetti ta' dan is-sindromu jinkludu testikoli żgħar u nuqqas ta' fertilità. F'madwar terz tal-każi, r-raġel jinduna li sidru jkun kiber iktar min-normal u dan jista' jwassal biex l-individwu jħossu konxju u mistħi minħabba dan. Fil-fatt ikun hemm min jagħmel operazzjoni biex iċekken sidru.
Fl-istess waqt fil-parti l-kbira ftit ikunu s-subien u l-irġiel li juru sintomi tas-sindromu li ssemma għal Dr Harry Klinefelter li fisser l-kundizzjoni lura għall-1942.
Min-naħa tagħha Adele qalet li bl-aħbar mhux biss kienet ixxukkjata, imma anke eċċitata u mbeżża' fl-istess ħin.
"Matul ħajti kollha qaluli li l-mod kif kont inħossni kien ħażin u li kienet xi ħaġa li għandi nistħi minnha. Imma fi ftit minuti t-tabib spjegali li kien OK li nħossni hekk".
Hija bdiet tieħu l-oestrogen u issa se tagħmel operazzjoni biex tbiddel kompletament id-dehra tagħha. Imma hija ma ħasbitx biss fiha u waqqfet is-Silverfish, proġett li jgħin persuni bħalha li ma jkollhomx dar u dawk li jkollhom problema ta' droga.
"Sa fl-aħħar sirt naf min jien"
Ix-xewqa tagħha hija li sa fl-aħħar tgħix ħajja normali kif tixtieq hi u mhux kif iridha ħaddieħor. Fosthom il-ġenituri tagħha stess.
"Jien tfajla normali. Kulma rrid huwa li nissetilja f'ħajti u xi darba niżżewweġ. Iġġelidt għal 20 sena biex inkun mara… u sa fl-aħħar naf min verament jien".
It-Tlieta, 25 ta’ Jannar 2011
[This article is not online at Malta Todays's website so far.]
In the first 10 months of last year 28 persons committed suicide in Malta. At least eight of them were young gays driven to suicide by the bullying and violence they have to face in the family, at school and on the place of work. Very little is being done to combat discrimination against gays and transgender persons in Malta. Last October the US Obama administration launched a campaign against homophobic bullying after a spate of reports of bullied lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-students committing suicide during 2010.
President Obama recorded a video for the ‘It Gets Better’ project which consists of a comprehensive guide how civil rights law applies to schools, colleges and university campuses. It also tells teachers and university officials how federal law regards situations of harassment and discrimination, and how institutions should deal with such cases. In his ‘It Gets Better’ video, the president said he was “shocked” and “saddened” by the suicide reports and urged depressed teenagers to seek help.
The project seeks to make teachers understand that in cases of discriminatory bullying, it may not be enough to reprimand perpetrators. Counselling bullies, labelling the incidents as discriminatory and encouraging other students to report incidents are some of the guidelines. We have no similar project in Malta to tackle the pervasive problem of homophobic bullying.
A few days ago a delegation from the Catholic gay and transgender group Drachma met Labour leader Dr Joseph Muscat, Gino Cauchi and I. They shocked us by telling us about the high rate of suicide by young gays. At least 25% of the persons who committed suicide in Malta in 2010 were gays who make up only five per cent of the population. Drachma urged us to put measures to fight discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons at the top of our agenda if we want to really create a more democratic, open and inclusive society.
They want an active state that will work hand in hand with NGOs to make homophobic bullying unacceptable in Malta and sponsor services to help young gays grow into free and happy persons who are treated with respect and dignity like other human beings. Drachma told us that the remit of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality needs to be widened and include also action to defeat discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.
Transgender people find it very difficult to find a job, even if they are very qualified. They suffer poverty and social exclusion. They are often humiliated and ridiculed. Many of them have tried to commit suicide, and some of them manage to kill themselves to escape a cruel society that has no place for them. Some have to go abroad to try and build a new life where they can be themselves. Some transgender persons are pushed to drugs, crime and prostitution.
A few days before the meeting with Drachma I saw a letter written by a transgender person who is in prison at Corradino and who “has not yet completed her full female transformation.” She writes: “The officials are making my life hell, insulting me, treating me as dirt and as an inferior human being with all the worst comments that you can imagine.”
She is called “a mistake made by nature” and denied a hair blower, eye liner and make up” and has to shower with men even though she has breasts. “They stop my visits and just fill me up with pills to sleep.”
I am told that there is more than one transgender person who is treated like this in prison. The Malta Gay Rights’ Movement has tried to intervene on their behalf but they have achieved very little as the authorities do not even bother to give them an appointment to meet, let alone to hear about these injustices and address them.
Drachma spoke to us of other injustices against gays outside prison: openly gay persons are not employed by some Church schools or asked to leave if they have a partner or are living with a partner.
We also discussed how the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community can contribute to society. The most successful societies that generate wealth and a high quality of life are those that embrace diversity and creativity where everyone participates in the exchange of ideas and cultural life in a spirit of openness. Such societies have no space for homophobia and celebrate people who are different but treated as equal.
62 years ago, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the Human Rights Commission in its first years, asked, "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
Monday, 24th January 2011 by Gabi Calleja, coordinator, Malta Gay Rights Movement, Mosta
In a letter by Joseph A. Muscat published on January 13 and another by Fr Victor Enriquez published on January 5, reference was made to the undesirability of adoption by same-sex couples. Despite more than three decades of cross-sectional research demonstrating that the psychological adjustment of children is unrelated to their parents' sexual orientation, the legitimacy of lesbian and gay biological, foster and adoptive parenting is still under scrutiny. The letters inferred that gay parenting was not in the best interests of the child, in one case because same-sex parenting represented an anomalous situation and in the other instance because of the lack of maternal – or in the case of a lesbian couple one would presume paternal – love.
Research into gay and lesbian parenting has consistently underscored the comparative irrelevance of sexual orientation and gender to effective parenting. To cite one recent example, in the longitudinal study by Gartrell and Bos (2010), the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive and externalising problem behaviour than their age-matched counterparts from heterosexual parent families.
In young children, adjustment is largely determined by family functioning, regardless of their parents' gender or sexual orientation. Children fare better when their parents are compatible, share responsibilities, provide financial stability and have healthy interpersonal connections. During adolescence, peer relations become more important as teenagers develop a sense of identity, a deeper appreciation of inter-individual difference and a keener awareness of minority status.
In today's world people have children in and out of marriage and live their lives in all sorts of family arrangements with or without partners and with or without other support systems. What we do know is that effective parenting in a loving and nurturing support system is critical to the development of competent adults. The sooner policymakers and legislators realise this, the better off we and especially our children will be. What we should therefore be concerned about is not the sexual orientation or gender identity of parents but how to promote effective parenting by women and/or men within the full range of family structures in contemporary society.
New father Elton John attacked opponents of gay marriage and backed efforts to overturn California's ban at a Beverly Hills event to raise funds for a legal challenge.
"It seems so ridiculous I could be with my partner for 17 years and we have a son, and my partner and I can't get married," Sir Elton, 63, said today during the 90-minute set at a estate in which he banged out Your Song, Sixty Years On, Levon and other hits he wrote before he came out as gay.
Sir Elton disappointed some gay activists after the California ban, known as Proposition 8, passed in 2008 when he said he had no desire to get married and was satisfied with the civil partnership he and his long-time partner, David Furnish, had.
"If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership. The word 'marriage' I think, puts a lot of people off," he said at the time.
But Sir Elton was singing a different tune at today's concert, which raised three million dollars for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
He praised the effort to overturn the ban and promised to do everything he could to support it.
"As a gay man I think I have it all," he said. "I have a wonderful career, a wonderful life. I have my health, I have a partner of 17 years and I have a son.
"And you know what, I don't have everything, because I don't have the respect of people like the church, and people like politicians who tell me that I am not worthy or that I am 'less than' because I am gay."
He then punctuated his remark with an expletive, to cheers and applause from the crowd.
Furnish and Sir Elton became parents to a baby boy on Christmas Day. Their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, was born in California through a surrogate mother.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times website.]
Constituted bodies and representative organisations were handed a total of €60,000 today to help them participate in meetings and other events related to the European Union.
The money came from the Civil Society Fund (CSF), administered by the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC). It is also aimed at assisting civil society organisations to keep abreast of developments in the European Union and participate in the European decision-making process.
The CSF provides financial support of up to 80% of the expenses borne by the respective organisations. The total amount of eligible expenses that may be considered by the Committee for the allocation of a grant cannot exceed €12,500 for each applicant.
The beneficiaries were the Association of Speech Language Pathologists, the Chamber of Engineers, CMTU, the Hair and Beauty Federation, the Consumers Association:
The Malta Association of Hospitality Executives, the Malta Association of Social Workers, the Malta Association of Physiotherapists, the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists, the Malta Confederation of Women's Organisations, the Malta Dental Technology Association, the Malta Exercise, Health and Fitness Association;
The Malta Federation of Professional Associations, the Malta Gay Rights Movements, the Malta Health Network, the Malta Institute of Management, the Malta Midwives Association, the Malta Union of Bank Employees, the Malta Islands Agri Federation, the National Association of Pensioners, the National Council of Women (Malta), the Richmond Foundation, the Soċjetà Turistika Maltija, the Gozo Business Chamber and the Scout Association of Malta.
EU Parliament: Il-Parlament Litwan għandu jirrifjuta abbozz ta' liġi kontra l-omossesswali [Malti / English]
Drittijiet fundamentali − 19-01-2011 - 13:45
L-MEPs talbu lill-Parlament Litwan biex jirrifjuta l-abbozz ta' leġiżlazzjoni li jikkastiga l-"promozzjoni pubblika ta' relazzjonijiet omosesswali". Barra minn hekk, skont ir-riżoluzzjoni adottata, il-minorenni għandhom ikollhom aċċess liberu għall-informazzjoni dwar l-omosesswalità. Il-Kummissjoni Ewropea ġiet mitluba tippreżenta pjan għall-ġlieda kontra l-omofobija.
Din ir-riżoluzzjoni kienet ġiet imressqa mill-gruppi S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA u GUE/GNL wara "numru ta' avvenimenti inkwetanti", bħall-adozzjoni tal-Liġi dwar il-Ħarsien tal-Minorenni kontra l-Effetti Negattivi tal-Informazzjoni Pubblika, il-fatt li l-awtoritajiet lokali ppruvaw jipprojbixxu l-organizzazzjoni ta' mixjiet favur l-ugwaljanza u tal-gay pride, u l-użu min-naħa ta' politikanti u ta' membri parlamentari ewlenin ta' lingwaġġ ta' theddid li jinstiga l-mibgħeda.
L-abbozz ta' leġiżlazzjoni jemenda l-Kodiċi ta' Offiżi Amministrattivi biex isir jikkastiga l-'promozzjoni pubblika ta' relazzjonijiet omosesswali' b'multa ta' bejn 580 u 2,900 ewro. Skont rapport mill-Aġenzija tad-Drittijiet Fundamentali, ippreżentat lill-MEPs fit-30 ta' Novembru 201, dawn l-emendi jistgħu potenzjalment jikkriminalizzaw kważi kull espressjoni pubblika, turija ta', jew informazzjoni dwar, l-omosesswalità.
Il-Parlament Ewropew qabel mal-Ministru Litwan tal-Ġustizzja li huwa tal-fehma li dawn l-emendi jmorru kontra il-Kostituzzjoni tal-Litwanja. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President tar-Repubblika tal-Litwanja u eks-kummissarju tal-UE, ukoll ħadet pożizzjoni soda, fejn iddenunċjat l-abbozz tal-leġiżlazzjoni omofobika bħala wieħed ta' ħsara għaċ-ċittadini Litwani u għall-immaġini tal-Litwanja.
Waqt li nnotaw li l-emendi proposti "għadhom ma ġewx ivvutati mill-Plenarja tal-Parlament Litwan", l-MEPs laqgħu l-pjan tal-awtoritajiet nazzjonali tal-Litwanja li jeżaminaw l-emendi li tqiesu f'kunflitt mal-liġi Ewropea, u talbu lill-President Grybauskaitė sabiex timponi l-veto tagħha jekk dawn jiġu approvati.
Bżonn ta' pjan tal-UE kontra l-omofobija
L-MEPs stiednu lill-Kummissjoni biex tagħmel evalwazzjoni legali tal-emendi proposti. Ġiet ukoll mitluba tfassal Pjan Direzzjonali tal-UE b'miżuri konkreti kontra l-omofobija u d-diskriminazzjoni fuq bażi tal-orjentament sesswali.
Huma saħqu li "l-Istituzzjonijiet u l-Istati Membri tal-UE għandhom id-dmir li jiżguraw li d-drittijiet tal-bniedem jiġu rispettati, imħarsa u promossi fl-Unjoni Ewropea," mingħajr distinzjoni fuq bażi tal-orjentament sesswali.
L-edukazzjoni dwar id-diversità sesswali tista' tħeġġeġ it-tolleranza
F'Ġunju 2009, il-Parlament Litwan (Seimas) ivvota b'maġġoranza kbira biex tiġi emendata l-Liġi dwar il-Ħarsien tal-Minorenni kontra l-Effetti Negattivi tal-Informazzjoni Pubblika, fejn il-minorenni ġew ipprojbiti milli jaċċedu għal informazzjoni dwar l-omosesswalità.
L-MEPs isostnu li "l-ebda riċerka kredibbli ma tindika li l-għoti ta' edukazzjoni lit-tfal u liż-żgħażagħ dwar is-sesswalità jista' jaffettwa l-orjentament sesswali tagħhom ... l-edukazzjoni dwar id-diversità sesswali tħeġġeġ it-tolleranza u l-aċċettazzjoni tad-differenzi."
MEPs urge Lithuanian parliament to reject anti-gay law
The European Parliament called on the Lithuanian parliament on Wednesday to reject a draft law that would punish the "public promotion of homosexual relations". It added that minors should be able to access information about homosexuality freely and asked the European Commission to present a plan to combat homophobia.
Wednesday's resolution, put forward by the S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE/GNL groups, was triggered by "a series of worrying events", according to MEPs. These include the adoption of a Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information, an attempted ban by local authorities on holding equality and gay pride marches and the use by leading politicians of inflammatory or threatening language and hate speech.
The immediate issue is a draft law that would amend the Code of Administrative Offences to punish the "public promotion of homosexual relations" with a fine of between €580 and €2900. This could potentially criminalise almost any public expression or portrayal of, or information about, homosexuality, according to a report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency presented to MEPs on 30 November.
The draft law is contrary to the Lithuanian Constitution, believes the EP, an opinion shared by the Lithuanian Justice Minister. Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė (a former EU Commissioner) has also taken a firm stand on the legislation, denouncing it as harmful for Lithuanian citizens and the image of the country.
The proposed amendments "have not yet been voted by the plenary of the Lithuanian parliament and are still under review by the Lithuanian national authorities", MEPs point out. They welcome the authorities plan to review the proposed amendments that have been deemed to be in conflict with European law and ask President Grybauskaitė to veto them should they be approved.
EU plan to fight homophobia needed
Parliament also wants the Commission to undertake a legal assessment of the proposed amendments and to issue an EU Roadmap with measures to fight homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
"EU Institutions and Member States have a duty to ensure that human rights are respected, protected and promoted in the European Union", without distinction on grounds of sexual orientation, emphasise MEPs.
Education about sexual diversity can encourage tolerance
The Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) has already voted, in June 2009, to amend the Law on the Protection of Minors against Detrimental Effects of Public Information, so as to ban minors from accessing information about homosexuality.
But MEPs argue that "no credible research indicates that educating children and young people about sexuality may affect their sexual orientation (...) Education about sexual diversity encourages tolerance and acceptance of differences".
Around 300 years before the birth of Christ, the Old Testament provided us with a splendid script, Ecclesiastes, attributed to Qoheleth – the Preacher.
In it the writer constantly laments the vanity of created things which can never satisfy the heart of man and also decries the fact that really “there is nothing new under the sun”.
After the death of Christ many of his followers left the land of Israel and started to preach the Gospel in lands whose perspective and way of life contrasted sharply with that of the land from which they had come.
The influence of Rome over the known world of the time was immense.
Architecture, social organisation, military prowess, law-giving, the building of roads, aqueducts, theatres, public baths, etc., all contributed to the strength and power of the state.
There was, however, a darker side which the first Christians had to contend with when they embarked on their mission. It was a time of routine brutality and of great moral degradation and depravity.
In his letter to the Romans St Paul so says, “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves.” Besides, human life counted for nothing and this was especially true of slaves who could be used and abused at will by their masters.
With the advent of Christianity a revolutionary vision of life was now proposed. All of a sudden there was hope for those without hope and men and women found that they had a newfound dignity endowed on them as children of God.
It was now wrong to expose babies to the elements and leave them to die if the father so decided.
Women were not considered chattels to be discarded at will and divorce a violation of God’s eternal laws. Abortion and homosexual behaviour were to be abhorred and condemned. For 300 years Christians battled to present Christ’s Good News to the Roman world and often had to pay a terrible price for their fidelity to their Lord.
Two thousand years later our modern world seems to have reverted to the mentality prevalent in ancient times. What today seems so progressive and innovative was considered normal before the appearance of Christ. Divorce, abortion, homosexual behaviour, the utter scorn of human life were ordinary facets of daily life. It was only when Christ in his Sermon on the Mount declared that the meek, the pure of heart, the peace-makers, the poor in spirit are blessed that the world was presented with a radical change of values and manner of living.
Sadly the decision to revert to those laws and to that mentality pertaining to the pre-Christian era is inevitably leading us to barbarism. The fifty million unborn children, some of them almost full-term, killed every year through abortion and the suppression of the weak and the terminally ill through euthanasia is enough witness to this. For as Pope John Paul II said at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, “Contempt of God inevitably leads to contempt of man.”
What are committed Christians supposed to do when faced with this situation, when they are often derided, ridiculed and marginalised because of their faith in Christ and in His Church?
The answer lies in the firm belief that Christ, the Lord of history, is still very much in control of the destiny of mankind and that He will keep true to his promises. Like the first Christians this unshakeable faith will help them face all the personal difficulties and sufferings that living in a neo-pagan society inevitably entails.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
L-Erbgħa, 19 ta’ Jannar 2011
Realtajiet tal-Lum - Radju tal-Knisja (RTK) 103MHz FM.
Programm ixxandar fil-11 ta' Novembru 2010
Tista' tisma' l-programm kollu fil-Librerija tal-RTK hawn. [Mużika ta' l-Introduzzjoni u wara 95:04 minuta ta' diskussjoni.]
[52:00 - Esperjenza ta' Peruna Transġenera]
RTK On-Demand Library - Lista tal-Programmi ta' Realtajiet tal-Lum:
18 January 2011, 5:26pm by Paul Canning
Two young men who filmed themselves having sex with a 17-year-old have been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran.
The film was discovered on the mobile phones of Ayub and Mosleh, 20 and 21 years old, by agents of the Iranian regime in the Kurdistan city of Piranshahr in northwest Iran. It has been claimed that the video included them having sex with a third, 17-year-old who told religious police that the pair raped him in exchange for sparing his own life.
The pair’s full names have not been released.
Pictures of President Ahmadinejad and a headshot of Supreme Leader Khamenei pasted over a donkey were allegedly incorporated into the film.
Reports say that the young men’s stoning was immediately ordered for this Friday “to instill fear in the people of Iran”.
News of the sentence originates from a Kurdish newspaper and has been distributed by the International Committee Against Stoning, which launched the worldwide campaign against the stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani for adultery.
It has since been confirmed by other sources.
Iranian LGBT activists and human rights organisations have reported a number of other death sentences for homosexuality in the past two years. However the Iranian government maintains that “most of these individuals have been charged for forcible sodomy or rape”.
The original newspaper report claimed that the boys raped another.
Soheila Vahdati, an independent human rights defender for Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Iranian Queer Organisation based in San Francisco, said: “They don’t differentiate between rape and homosexual acts. As well, there is a culture of shame. The families won’t defend their loved ones from this brutal punishment.”
“We are very concerned even though we haven’t got all the details,” she added. “We’ll try to save their lives but unfortunately Iran has quickly executed people in the past.”
Judges order execution by stoning under a 1983 law detailing offences proscribed by God, and then under the general Islamic penal code. Some senior Shia clerics have spoken out against stoning.
The International Committee Against Stoning has urged “the young people of Piranshahr to hasten to the aid of Ayub and Mosleh and declare that they will not permit this tragedy to occur”.
The Association of British Muslims, alongside an international coalition of Muslim organisations, has condemned the sentence and says it does not see anything in the Koran to justify such punishment.
The group said: “Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, ‘…if anyone slays a human being unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind…’”
Last month Human Rights Watch published a large scale report on the repression of LGBT in Iran. It said that those charged with same-sex offences stand little chance of receiving a fair trial.
There are few reliable statistics on the frequency with which stonings take place in Iran. Recent years have seen a rising number of cases reported. Some members of parliament are reportedly hoping that the Supreme Leader will pass a fatwa against stoning.
3:35pm UK, Tuesday January 18, 2011
The Christian owners of a seaside guesthouse acted unlawfully by refusing to let a gay couple share a double bed, a judge has ruled in a landmark case.
[Click here to watch video.]
Peter and Hazelmary Bull did not allow civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy to use a double room in their Cornwall B&B because it would be "an affront to their faith".
However, a judge at Bristol County Court said the couple were breaking the law by denying the men a room.
Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were each awarded £1,800 in damages.
The couple said they were extremely happy with the outcome of the case.
"When we booked this hotel we just wanted to do something that thousands of other couples do every weekend - take a relaxing weekend break away.
"We're really pleased that the judge has confirmed what we already know - that in these circumstances our civil partnership has the same status in law as a marriage between a man and a woman, and that, regardless of each person's religious beliefs, no-one is above the law."
Peter and Hazelmary Bull have strict religious beliefs
Mr Preddy booked a room at the B&B in 2008 and Mrs Bull assumed he was bringing his wife with him.
When he arrived with his civil partner Mr Hall, the pair were refused a double room by the manager Bernie Quinn, who instead offered them seperate single rooms.
The Preddys used the 2007 Equality Act Regulations to bring the case to court, claiming £5,000 in damages.
A month before Mr Preddy booked to stay at the B&B, Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, had warned the Bulls that a notice on their website about who could and could not stay was illegal.
The notice read: "We have few rules but please note that out of a deep regard for marriage we prefer to let double accommodation to heterosexual married couples only."
Ben Summerskill, from Stonewall, welcomed the ruling.
He said: "You can't turn away people from a hotel because they're black or Jewish and in 2011 you shouldn't be able to demean them by turning them away because they're gay either.
"Religious freedom shouldn't be used as a cloak for prejudice."
Mrs Bull has argued that even her brother and his female partner were not allowed to share a room in her house due to her strict religious beliefs.
Their legal fees were paid for by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, while Mr and Mrs Bull's defence was funded by The Christian Institute.
Outside court Mrs Bull said the result was a disappointment.
"Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody," she said.