Thursday, 28 April 2011
Artiklu li deher fuq is-sit TGEU (Transgender Europe), li huwa sit li jwassal informazzjoni dwar id-drittijiet tal-persuni transesswali fil-pajjizi tal-Unjoni Ewropea, ikkritika bl-ahrax lil pajjizna hekk kif qieghed kontinwament jikser id-drittijiet fundamentali umani tal-persuni trans.
Dan hekk kif pajjizna ma joffrix facilitajiet maghrufa bhala gender confirming surgeries, operazzjonijiet li permezz taghhom persuna tista' tibdel is-sess taghha. Kien il-Ministru tas-Sahha stess Joe Cassar li fil-Parlament ikkonferma li dawn il-facilitajiet ghadhom ma jezistux f'pajjizna.
Sadanittant, fil-Parlament, il-Ministru Cassar ma wegibx dwar jekk dawn it-tip ta' operazzjonijiet hux ser jigu nkluzi fl-iskemi tas-sahha pubblika.
Il-Qorti Ewropeja tad-drittijiet umani kienet iddecidiet li kull stat membru tal-Unjoni Ewropea ghandu l-obbligu li jipprovdi l-facilitajiet necessarji sabiex persuna tkun tista' tibdel is-sess taghha.
Fir-rapport tieghu intitolat 'Human Right and Gender Identity', il-Kummissarju Ewropew ghad-drittijiet umani, Thomas Hammarberg jghid li kull pajjiz membru fl-Unjoni Ewropea ghandu d-dover li joffri l-facilitajiet kollha medici li huma mehtiega ghall-persuni trans, liema facilitajiet u trattamenti ghandhom jinkludu wkoll operazzjonijiet li jwasslu ghall-full gender-reassignment.
L-artiklu jzid jghid li Malta tehtieg li tindirizza diversi kwistjonijiet marbuta mall-persuni trans, fosthom il-fatt li persuni trans ma jistghux jizzewwgu u l-fatt li meta persuna tbiddel is-sess taghha, trid bilfors tintbghat ghal trattamenti psiko-terapewtici, trattamenti ormonali u trid issirilha wkoll evalwazzjoni minn professjonist fis-sahha mentali.
Dawn ir-rekwiziti kollha li qed jigu mposti f'Malta fuq persuni trans, qeghdin jiksru l-principji ta' Yogyakarta li gew ifformulati fl-Indonezja fl-2006 u li jghidu car u tond li rekwiziti bhal dawn ghandhom jitnehhew minnufih biex jonqos l-agir abbuziv f'dan ir-rigward.
Is-sit isemmi wkoll il-kaz ta' Joanne Cassar ta' 29 sena, hekk kif din qed tigI mcahhda mill-qorti milli tizzewweg minhabba li hija persuna trans.
TGEU iheggeg lil l-awtoritajiet ta’ pajjizna biex ibiddlu l-politika u l-ligijiet prezenti li sa issa ghadhom ma jirrikonoxxux persuni trans u dan sabiex dawn il-persuni ma jibqghux jigu ddiskriminati.
Saturday, 23 April 2011
In a thinly veiled threat of excommunication and eternal damnation, Malta’s Catholic bishops have reminded the faithful that there will be ‘irreparable consequences’ to voting ‘Yes’ in the May 28 divorce referendum.
A pastoral note, issued to priests in March [23rd] but recently made public on the website of the Archdiocese, makes it clear that all Christians who intend to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum will be defying the will of God and the Magisterium of the Church.
“The Christian must take a decision to vote in favour or against divorce legislation in the light of his belief. For the Christian, a law that transforms marriage into something temporary runs counter to the will of Our Father. For this reason, the Christian who favours divorce will create a division between his beliefs and his intended decision: which decision will bear irreparable consequences.”
As ‘irreparable’ unequivocally means that no remedy will be possible, the Bishops’ warning places a Yes vote in the referendum firmly in the same category as a Mortal Sin: almost exactly half a century after the Church resorted to identical sanctions in its notorious 1961 altercation with the Labour Party.
The note goes on: “In our pastoral work, we priests have the duty to help the Christian make a proper judgement of marriage according to the word of God, in the light of the Magisterium of the Church, including her social teaching of about the real good of the individual and of society.
“When the Christian recognises that his judgement does not tally with the teachings of Christ, as communicated by the Church, he will not be free from guilt if he does not realign his judgement with that teaching – because when [a Christian] consciously and freely breaks the moral law, he will be breaking his relation with God, the father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
However, the same pastoral note also gives an informal blessing to the government’s plans to regulate cohabitation at law: despite the fact that, like divorce, cohabitation also falls foul of God’s law.
“The State is in duty bound to regulate the rights and obligations between a man and a woman in a stable relationship, which stability is not officially confirmed at law. In this regard, legislators must take care not to create any legal status that touches upon the permanence of marriage; however, it is good that persons in stable relations which are not officially approved are given legal protection regarding certain civil consequences.”
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on Malta Today's website.]
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
17. 4. 2011
MA nafux xi tkun ir-reazzjoni tagħkom il-qarrejja, tal-ġenituri u tal-għalliema (u fuq kollox tad-Divizjoni tal-Edukazzjoni) kieku l-Malta Gay Rights Movement kellha torganizza laqgħat fl-iskejjel sekondarji. F’pajjiż li aħna nimitaw ħafna, fir-Renju Unit, Stonewall, li huwa grupp favur l-ugwaljanza omosesswali, jorganizza żjarat minn Sir Ian McKellen fi skejjel sekondarji.
Kull darba li McKellen jżur skola qed ikun sorpriż għax b’sorpriża xi ħadd jgħid li hu omosesswali meta qabel ħadd ma jkun jaf. Kien hemm
studenti li qalu li huma omosesswali għall-ewwel darba u kien hemm ukoll għalliema li tkellmu dwar dan mal-kapijiet tagħhom, wara jew waqt iż-żjara ta’ McKellen. Huwa fil-fatt iħossu sorpriż bl-effett taż-żjarat tiegħu fl-iskejjel imma wkoll privileġġat. Il-ħolma ta’ McKellen u Stonewall hija li fir-Renju Unit ikun hemm sistema edukattiva fejn l-omofobija, li ilha snin twal tirrenja, tispiċċa u jkun hemm kurrikulu li jinkludi persuni lesbjani, omosesswali u bisesswali. Huma jemmnu wkoll li m’għandux jonqos il-potenzjal għall-studenti omosesswali l-aktar għal dawk li ma jmorrux tajjeb għax il-kunfidenza tagħhom ma baqgħetx li kienet minħabba l-ibbuljar.
Il-kollega ta’ McKellen jgħid li meta kien imur l-iskola, studenti maħsuba omosesswali kienu jkunu mgħajra u għalhekk ħadd ma kien jażżarda jgħid li hu omosesswali. B’konsegwenza, l-għalliema ma kienu jaraw l-ebda raġuni għaliex għandhom iqajmu s-suġġett fil-klassi
għax kienu jaħsbu li m’hemmx studenti omosesswali. L-istudenti saħansitra kienu jibżgħu jammettu ma’ xulxin li huma omosesswali.
Fir-Renju Unit, fl-1988, kienet imdaħħla liġi mill-gvern ta’ Margaret Thatcher li kienet tagħmilha llegali li wieħed jippromwovi l-omosesswalità fl-iskejjel. Dan ma nbidilx qabel l-2003. Dan l-aħħar, Stonewall stħarrġet u sabet li disa’ minn kull għaxra għalliema fis-sekondarja jgħidu li l-istudenti tagħhom kienu vittmi ta’ bbuljar omofobiku, imma disa’ minn kull għaxra jgħidu li qatt ma rċevew taħriġ dwar kif jieħdu ħsieb dawn il-problemi. L-omofobija tant saret komuni li l-kelma gay daħlet fl-iskejjel bħala sinonimu ma’ dak kollu li hu inadekwat.
McKellen iżomm il-klassijiet li jkellem attenti, speċjalment meta jirrakkonta kif hu qatt ma qal li hu omosesswali sas-sena 1988, meta kellu 49 sena. Xi studenti staqsewh jekk kienx jinkwieta li dan il-fatt jista’ jtellfu fil-karriera tieghu. McKellen fisser li dan kienriskju li ħa bi pjaċir. McKellen ma basarx li kien hemm ibbuljar daqstant kbir fil-konfront ta’ persuni omosesswali fl-iskejjel.
McKellen isemmi eżempju fejn l-użu tal-lingwaġġ issarraf f’konsegwenzi gravi. Ian Bayham kien maqtul f’attakk omofobiku fejn tfajla rifset rasu. Huwa jżur l-iskejjel ukoll biex jagħtihom gwida fil-kurrikulu tagħhom kif jistgħu jintegraw lezzjonijiet fuq l-omosesswali.
Il-kampanja ta’ Stonewall tinkludi wkoll suldat ta’ 24 sena, li huwa l-ewwel suldat omosesswali li uffiċjalment qal li huwa omosesswali u deher fuq il-faċċata ta’ quddiem ta’ magazin tal-armata.
Hemm bżonn li anke f’pajjiżna dan is-suġġett jingħata l-importanza mixtieqa. L-istudenti tagħna għandhom jkunu mħarrġa biex juru tolleranza sa minn mindu jkunu żgħar lejn studenti u nies oħra b’orjentazzjoni sesswali differenti minn tagħhom. F’pajjizna għad hawn ħafna adulti li jitkellmu b’mod negattiv u dispreġġjattiv dwar persuni omosesswali li m’hemmx dubju taffettwa lil uliedhom li jisimgħuhom. Nistennew ukoll bil-ħerqa biex fis-sillabi l-ġodda li qed jkunu mħejjija jkun hemm inkluż xi strateġija ta’ inkluzjoni u kontra ddiskriminazzjoni se tittieħed fl-iskejjel.
Il-preżenza tal-MGRM fl-iskejjel tista’ tkun ħolma mbiegħda. Biss meta wieħed iħares lejn kemm għaqdiet governattivi u non-governattivi jidħlu fl-iskejjel ixerrdu l-aġendi tagħhom, ma għandhom ikunu proprju l-istituzzjonijiet edukattivi li jħallu lil xi ħadd barra. L-MGRM ukoll għandha responsabbilità li xxerred dak li temmen fih u allura trid tibda proprju milledukazzjoni tat-tfal.
L-istaff fl-iskejjel għandu joqgħod attent li ma jużax lingwaġġ li jweġġa’ studenti omosesswali fi żmien vulnerabbli fejn forsi jkunu għadhom ma qalu lil ħadd bl-orjentazzjoni sesswali tagħhom. L-istaff għandu jingħata taħriġ kif jieħu ħsieb ibbuljar lejn persuni omosesswali u kif jiggwida studenti dwar problemi relatati.
Din il-paġna ta’ kull ġimgħatejn qiegħda tittella’ minn grupp ta’ għalliema u edukaturi, bil-għan li jinfurmaw għalliema u ġenituri dwar kwistjonijiet li jkunu għaddejjin fl-iskejjel jew problemi soċjali li qegħdin jiffaċċjaw u li ftit li xejn qegħdin nitkellmu dwarhom. Kull min irid jikkorrispondi ma’ dinil-paġna dwar problemi fil-kulleġġi jew skejjel jista’ jagħmel dan billi jibgħat emejl fuq: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ħallini nifraħlek tat-tweġiba tajba ħafna, li tajt għad-domanda li għamlulek fit-TORĊA tal-Ħadd li għadda: Li Tkun Gay: Mixja ta’ Fidi.
Jien inħossni grat ħafna ta’ kif weġibt, għax niżgurak li l-mod li weġibt jibni relazzjonijiet fil-familji iktar b’saħħithom; qed tgħallem lin-nies biex ma jiddiskriminawx jew jiġġudikaw lil dawk li huma differenti minnhom.
Inti qed tagħmel iktar sinjura l-Knisja tagħna għax qed tistieden lill-membri tal-Knisja biex jaċċettaw l-isfidi tal-ħajja.
Prosit, mill-qalb - forsi tixtieq tiġi għal-laqgħa tagħna.
Il-ħabiba tiegħek fil-Mulej,
Li tkun Gay: Mixja ta' Fidi
• Nirringrazzjak. Nipprova nitkellem dak li jien konvint minnu u nipprova li nkun b’saħħti biżżejjed, bl-għajnuna t’Alla, li ngħix dawk il-valuri ta’ tolleranza, non-ġudizzju, aċċettazzjoni tad-diversità u d-differenza li nara madwari.
Konvintissimu mill-imħabba bla kundizzjoni li Alla għandu għal kull persuna.
Naprezza ħafna l-istedina tiegħek u nittama li nkun nista’ nattendi.
Nhar l-Erbgha 20 ta’ April, fis-7.30 pm, se ssir quddiesa mid-DRACHMA PARENTS’ GROUP biex jirringrazzjaw lil Alla għal dawk kollha li huma leżbjani, gay, bi-sesswali u transgender (LGBT) kemm
bħala individwi, dawk li jiġu minnhom u ħbieb.
Min irid iżjed tagħrif jista’ jiksbu: http://www.maltagayrights.net/DrachmaParents.
Naprezza ħafna dak kollu li qegħdin tagħmlu biex tgħinu lill-ġenituri tal-LGBT biex ikomplu jaċċettaw bla ebda kundizzjoni lil uliedhom. Li jkomplu jħobbuhom, jaċċettawhom u jinkoraġġuhom f’ħajjithom.
Id-DRACHMA PARENTS’ GROUP qegħdin jagħmlu xogħol verament utli għas-soċjetà Maltija. Qegħdin iġibu bidla bil-mod fil-kultura tagħna li għandha bżonn ħafna li timxi ‘l quddiem.
Nammira ħafna lil Fr Hilary u Fr Saviour li qegħdin jagħtukom il-premises tal-Millenium Chapel u jagħtukom kull support. Il-Patrijiet Agostinjani qegħdin ikunu pijunieri li juru t-triq 'il quddiem.
Saturday, April 16, 2011, 11:16
Divorce is a civil right and civil rights should not be decided by a referendum, former Labour leader Alfred Sant said this morning.
Speaking on Radju Malta's programme Ghandi x'Nghid, Dr Sant said that his government had embarked on a genuine attempt to strengthen Maltese families between 1996 and 1998.
This attempt had also included the consideration of divorce for when marriages
failed. This had led to a major campaign against him "but life goes on," Dr Sant said.
He stressed that divorce was a civil right and it was a mistake that the issue had come to a referendum.
The decision, he said, should have been taken by Parliament.
"If it is a civil right what you or I think is irrelevant... Minority rights have to be respected," Dr Sant said.
He said that he had never agreed with referenda as a way of taking decisions.
It was the government which should decide on matters relating to civil rights. He said he had also not agreed when his party had promised a referendum on divorce in its 1998 electoral manifesto. However, he had accepted the majority decision within his party.
Earlier in the programme, Dr Sant also said that he did not agree with censorship in general although he did agree there should be censorship on certain issues, such as child pornography and racial discrimination.
He said he did not agree with the position taken by the University rector in the Alex Vella Gera novel issue pointing out that the university should be a haven of research and free debate.
What had happened, he said, showed that the university was still bound to old systems which were very restrictive. This should not be the case.
Dr Sant criticised the way Parliament was working since Malta became a member of the EU.
"Instead of being policy makers, we are turning into policy takers," he said saying that Maltese parlamentariants were not being proactive enough.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Thursday, April 14, 2011
The government’s responses to a parliamentary question on the freedom of movement of same-sex couples were “evasive and unsatisfactory”, the Malta Gay Rights Movement and human rights organisation Aditus said.
They said Justice Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici had denied any knowledge of the issue in a recent meeting and stated a preference to deal with such matters on a case-by-case basis.
They condemned the government for what they termed as the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive, on which the European Commission would take action against Malta.
The two organisations applauded the Commission for taking steps in addressing the situation and called on the Maltese authorities to reconsider their policy.
Failing to recognise a same-sex union meant that if both members were EU citizens they would lose their civil status if they relocated to Malta, together with the rights and responsibilities attached to that status, the organisations noted. Where one member of the couple was a third-country national, Malta denied the right to freedom of movement by refusing to facilitate entry and residence, as required by the directive, they added.
“This ultimately results in the couple being required to move to another EU member state that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, or to possibly end the relationship if relocation is undesirable or impractical,” they said.
Despite Malta’s policy of non-recognition of same-sex marriages, registered partnerships or any other form of same-sex relationship, the Freedom of Movement Directive was nonetheless compulsory, MGRM and Aditus said.
“It is reprehensible the government hides behind a self-determined policy of same-sex relationships being ‘against public policy’ in justifying its homophobic and discriminatory stance and in effect negating and denying the legitimacy and worth of thousands of local, loving same-sex relationships,” they said.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Id-Drachma Parents Group se jfakkar it-tielet anniversarju mit-twaqqif tiegħu permezz ta’ Quddiesa ta’ Radd il-Ħajr li se ssir nhar l-Erbgħa, 20 ta’ April, fis-7.30 p.m., fil-Millennium Chapel, Paceville.
Għal din il-quddiesa qegħdin ikunu mistednin biex jattendu dawk kollha li huma gay, lisbjani, bisesswali jew transesswali (LGBT) flimkien ma’ qrabathom u mal-ħbieb tagħhom. L-iskop ewlieni tad-Drachma Parents Group huwa li jkun ta’ kuraġġ u ta’ appoġġ għall-persuni LGBT u l-familji tagħhom fi sforz li jkun hawn aktar għarfien dwar id-diffikultajiet li dawn iħabbtu wiċċhom magħhom minħabba l-istigma li s-soċjetà sfortunatament torbot ma’ persuni ta’ orjentament sesswali differenti. Dan il-grupp, li huwa prinċipalment miftuħ għall-ġenituri ta’ persuni LGBT, kien ġie fformat f’April tas-sena 2008 u jiltaqa’ darba fix-xahar – kull nhar ta’ Ħamis fit-8.30 p.m. – fid-Dar tal-Irtiri Mt St Joseph, Tarġa Gap, il-Mosta.
Bħala għaqda Nisranija, il-membri fi ħdan id-Drachma Parents Group jiltaqgħu biex jiddiskuti u jitolbu għal uliedhom u l-maħbubin tagħhom - mhux għax dawn huma persuni ħżiena iżda għax jafu li Alla jħobbhom eżattament kif inhuma u kif ħalaqhom Hu stess fix-xbieha Tiegħu.
Apparti l-laqgħat ta’ kull xahar, id-Drachma Parents Group jorganizza wkoll laqgħat speċjali, fosthom matul il-festi tal-Milied u l-Għid il-Kbir, li jkunu miftuħin għall-pubbliku. Waħda minn dawn il-laqgħat speċjali se tieħu l-forma ta’ Quddiesa ta’ Radd il-Ħajr li se ssir nhar l-Erbgħa, 20 ta’ April, fs-7.30 p.m., fil-Millennium Chapel, segwita minn bibita għal dawk kollha li jkunu preżenti.
Għal din il-Quddiesa qegħdin ikunu mistednin il-komunità LGBT kollha flimkien ma’ ġenituri u qraba tagħhom li jixtiequ jingħaqdu mad-Drachma Parents Group biex b’hekk, b’mod silenzjuż, joffru t-tama lil dawk li forsi għadhom qegħdin isibuha bi tqila biex jaċċettaw is-sesswalità ta’ wliedhom u l-maħbubin tagħhom.
Dawk kollha li jixtiequ jkunu jafu aktar dwar id-Drachma Parents Group jistgħu jikkuntattjaw lil Joseanne fuq 7944 2317, jibagħtu imejl fuq: email@example.com jew jidħlu fis-sit elettroniku: www.maltagayrights.net/DrachmaParents.
Monday, 18 April 2011
L-Orizzont: Transpożizzjoni inkorretta tad-Direttiva dwar il-Moviment Liberu tal-Persuni: L-MGRM u l-għaqda aditus jikkundannaw lill-Gvern
Il-Malta Gay Rights Movement ilha bosta xhur tiġbed l-attenzjoni dwar it-transpożizzjoni inkorretta ta' din id-direttiva, kemm mal-Kummissjoni Ewropea permezz tal-affiljazzjoni tagħha ma' ILGA-Europe, kif ukoll ma' politiċi lokali. Evarist Bartolo MP kien issottometta mistoqsija parlamentari dwar il-pożizzjoni tal-Gvern rigward il-moviment liberu ta' koppji tal-istess sess li jkunu jixtiequ jidħlu jew jabitaw f'Malta. Ir-risposti mogħtijin kienu evażivi u insoddisfaċenti.
Minbarra dan, it-transpożizzjoni inkorretta tad-Direttiva dwar Moviment Liberu kienet diskussa dan l-aħħar mal-Ministru tal-Ġustizzja u l-Intern Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici. Il-Ministru saħaq li ma kienx informat dwar is-sitwazzjoni u tenna li jippreferi jittratta sitwazzjonijiet simili bħala każi individwali.
Minkejja l-politika Maltija li tinsisti li ma tirrikonoxxix iż-żwiġijiet ta' bejn persuni tal-istess sess, sħubiji reġistrati jew forom oħrajn ta' relazzjonijiet, id-Direttiva dwar il-moviment liberu hi, madankollu, obbligatorja.
Skont Dr Neil Falzon, ċerpersin ta' aditus: "tirrikjedi li l-awtoritajiet kompetenti jiffaċilitaw id-dħul u r-residenza tas-sieħeb/sieħba li jkunu ċittadini ta' terzi pajjiżi, sakemm ir-relazzjoni tkun waħda dewwiema. Id-Direttiva tobbliga wkoll lill-awtoritajiet li jiġġustifikaw kwalunkwe ċaħda ta' dħul jew residenza lil dawn il-persuni."
F'każi fejn iż-żewġ membri tal-koppja huma ċittadini Ewropej, in-nuqqas ta' rikonoxximent tal-unjoni tagħhom bejn pajjiżi differenti toħloq sitwazzjoni anomala fejn, jekk jiġu li jirrisjedu f'Malta, dawn effettivament jitilfu l-istatus ċivili tagħhom, u kwalunkwe dritt ieħor bħala akkumpanjatur jew responsabbiltajiet mehmużin ma' dan l-istatus.
Fejn membru wieħed tal-koppja hu ċittadin ta' pajjiż barra l-Unjoni Ewropea, Malta tiċħad id-dritt tal-libertà tal-moviment billi tirrifjuta d-dħul u r-residenza, bħalma hu mitlub biċ-ċar mid-Direttiva. Dan effettivament jirriżulta li l-koppja jkollha tagħżel li tgħix f'pajjiż li ma jiddiskriminax fuq bażi tal-orjentazzjoni sesswali tal-indiwidwu, jew tiffaċċja l-possibilità li r-relazzjoni tintemm jekk ir-rilokazzjoni f'pajjiż ieħor mhix possibbli jew mhix mixtieqa.
Dan sempliċement għax jidher li hu wisq li wieħed jistenna li jiġu rikoxxuti d-dinjità ta' kull persuna u li l-imħabba bejn tnejn min-nies tiġi ċċelebrata u kkunsidrata tali irrispettivament mis-sess tal-koppja. Hi xi ħaġa kerha ferm li l-Gvern Malti jistaħba wara politika interna li tisħaq li koppji tal-istess sess huma "kontra l-politika pubblika" biex tiġi ġġustifikata din il-pożizzjoni omofobika u diskriminatorja li fir-realtà qiegħda tiċħad il-leġittimità u l-valur ta' eluf ta' koppji tal-istess sess f'relazzjoni reali u sinifikattiva.
Kemm il-Malta Gay Rights Movement kif ukoll aditus jagħrfu u jaffermaw id-dinjità sħiħa ta' kull persuna, u qegħdin jappellaw għar-rikonoxximent u ċ-ċelebrazzjoni tal-imħabba bejn żewġ persuni, irrispettivament mill-orjentazzjoni sesswali tal-persuni.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
There were strong reactions during a divorce debate this evening when the views of the 'no' lobby on 'the common good' were likened to the views of the Nazi Party and, later, when the introduction of divorce was linked to the introduction of abortion and same sex marriage.
The sharp exchanges were made during a Today Debate on Divorce, which was chaired by Roger deGiorgio.
The reference to the Nazi Party was made by former Labour MEP candidate Marlene Mizzi, who said that the Nazi Party used to hold that the common good came over individual rights, a view which, she said, was similar to the view of those who opposed divorce.
Austin Bencini, who opposes divorce, objected strongly to reference to the Nazi Party being made in this context, and said the argument did not apply. He said that in Malta, individual rights were protected in the context of fundamental human rights. Divorce, however, was not a fundamental right.
Later in the discussion, Joyce Cassar, who also opposes divorce, asked if minority issues should be tackled in the same way as the possible introduction of divorce was being considered. Would minority issues such as abortion and same-sex marriages also be considered in this way?
Deborah Schembri, chairman of the Divorce Movement, said the issue was about the introduction of divorce, which had absolutely nothing to do with abortion.
Those taking part in the discussion also argued about the provisions of the Divorce Bill, particularly the concept of 'no fault divorce'.
Ms Cassar said that had the Bill been different, providing for consensual divorce with valid reason or consequences for the spouse who caused a marriage to fail, she might not be campaigning in this way.
Dr Schembri said she agreed with the 'no fault' concept as it was not fair that somebody could prevent somebody else from getting divorced, just out of pique - holding on to the illusion of a marriage which had broken down for more than four years. Still, people who got divorced would still have the option not to re-marry, if they wished.
Marlene Mizzi said divorce would benefit the children from the second marriage, giving them stability. She said that children born out of wedlock were sometimes bullied and stigmatised
Dr Bencini said it was not legal to discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate children. Caselaw also said there should not be such a distinction.
Dr Schembri said the law still made distinctions in some case, such as inheritance in the case of a psrent not having a will.
The discussion also heard several comments from the audience, many of them pointing, emotionally to the problems they faced after their marriage broke down and they could not remarry.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2011 By MIRIAM DALLI
The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) is launching a new EU co-financed project targeting youths, professionals and academics on multiple discrimination.
NCPE Executive Director Romina Bartolo said the aims of the project are to stimulate debate on equality, diversity and multiple discrimination within the various spheres of society.
The 'Think Equal' project is estimated to cost some €250,000, co-funded by EU PROGRESS funds.
Referring to a study conducted by NCPE, Bartolo said in Malta, 57% of those interviewed perceived discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation to be widespread in Malta, whereas the European average is of 47%.
The same study also revealed that racial discrimination stands at 77% in Malta, unlike the European average which stands at 61%.
"Due to the high percentages, NCPE felt the need to focus on sexual orientation and racist discriminations," Bartolo said. She added that the project will cover all discriminatory grounds.
"It is important to tackle the issue of multiple discrimination, as research shows that a person can be discriminated against on more than one issue," Bartolo said.
The 'Think Equal' project will included qualitative studies on discrimination experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and racial groups in Malta.
A survey will be carried out amongst youths to measure the participation, level of awareness and acceptance of equality and diversity and occurrence of discrimination.
NCPE's Projects Executive Lara Bezzina said the target audiences will be youths, professionals and academics. She said that adverts, posters and leaflets will be disseminated amongst post-secondary students.
"Artistic exhibitions, competitions and a music concert to highlight discrimination in Malta will be carried out," Bezzina said.
The winners of the competitions will be announced during the music concert, which will include various musicians from different cultures and ethnicity.
"For the professionals and academics, a symposium on multiple discrimination will be organised to bring together experts who will deliver researched papers at the event," Bezzina said. She added the symposium will enable the creation of networks which will in turn have a ripple effect.
NCPE will also organise a training seminar to provide participants with an understanding of the equality legislative framework and equality concepts at play while bringing them in contact with victims of discrimination.
They stressed that despite Malta's policy not to recognise same-sex partnerships, recognising those obtained elsewhere for the directive's purposes was obligatory.
The directive "requires the competent authorities to facilitate the entry and residence of a third country national's same-sex spouse or partner, as long as the relationship is a durable one. Furthermore, the directive also obliges the authorities to justify any denial of entry or residence to such persons," Aditus chairman Neil Falzon said.
In cases where both members of a couple are EU citizens, the lack of recognition leads to an anomalous situation where a couple loses its civil status – and the rights and responsibilities this brought – upon relocating to Malta, the 2 organisations said. When couples are made up of an EU national and a non-EU national, Malta denies the latter freedom of movement by refusing to facilitate entry and residence as required by the directive.
"This ultimately results in the couple being required to move to another EU member state that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, or to possibly end the relationship if relocation is undesirable or impracticable," the 2 NGOs said.
"Malta's current policy approach results in a possible violation of the directive, and an intrusion in the private and family lives of EU citizens and, where applicable, their same- sex spouses or partners," MGRM coordinator Gabriella Calleja said.
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Il-Gvern Malti qed ikun ikkritikat li mhux qed japplika tajjeb id-direttiva Ewropea fil-konfront ta' koppji tal-istess sess.Il-Malta Gay Rights Movement u l-ghaqda Aditus qalu li hija xi haga kerha ferm li l-Gvern qed jibqa jistahba wara politika interna li tghid li koppji tal-istess sess huma kontra l-politika pubblika.
London, UK - 12 April 2011 By Peter Tatchell
According to the Sunday Times, the government is planning to lift the blanket, lifetime ban on blood donations from men who’ve had oral or anal sex with men. This ban was introduced at the height of AIDS panic in the 1980s, on the grounds that gay and bisexual men are at greater risk of HIV. The public health minister Anne Milton is reportedly planning to modify the ban. Men who have had sex with men will be no longer be barred for life, but only for 10 years after the last time they had oral or anal sex. This ban will apply even if they always use a condom and even if they test HIV-negative.
A 10 year ban is too long. So is five years or even one year. These are needlessly cautious exclusion periods. Protecting the blood supply is the number one priority but ensuring blood safety does not require such lengthy time-spans during which gay and bisexual men should not donate blood.
The blood service could replace the blanket lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men with a much shorter exclusion period. It should focus on excluding donors who have engaged in risky behaviour and those whose HIV status cannot be accurately determined because of the delay between the date of infection and the date when the HIV virus and HIV antibodies manifest and become detectable in an infected person’s blood.
HIV antibodies normally take a maximum of one to three months to become identifiable in lab tests. The HIV virus can take two weeks to be detected. The blood service currently tests all donated blood for HIV antibodies but not for the HIV virus. To be safe, perhaps it should do both tests on potentially risky blood donations?
Reducing the exclusion period for blood donations from gay and bisexual men should go hand-in-hand with a “Safe Blood” education campaign targeted at the gay community, to ensure that no one donates blood if they are at risk of HIV and other blood-borne infections due to unsafe sexual behaviour.
Moreover, the questionnaire that would-be blood donors have to answer should be made more detailed for men who’ve had sex with men, in order to more accurately identify the degree of risk, if any, that their blood may pose.
There is, in addition, a strong case for only excluding men who’ve had risky sex without a condom. At the moment the blood service makes no distinction between sex with a condom and sex without one. All oral or anal sex between men - even with a rubber – is grounds for refusing a donor under the current rules. This strikes me as odd. If a condom is used correctly, it is absolute protection against the transmission and contraction of HIV. Those who use condoms every time and without breakages should not be barred from donating blood.
In contrast to the suggested 10 year ban for gay and bisexual blood donors, a six month exclusion period would be sufficient. This would exclude male donors who have had oral or anal sex with a man without a condom in the previous six months. All men who last had unprotected sex with men more than six months ago would have their blood tested for HIV antibodies, as is the current practice. Although the six month exclusion period is more than twice as long as it takes HIV antibodies to appear in the blood of an infected person, this is may be justified to err on the side of caution and to reassure the public.
The exclusion period could, however, be much shorter than six months, with certain provisos. The blood service could decide to ban only donations from men who’ve had unsafe condomless oral or anal sex with a man in the last month. For men who’ve had unprotected oral or anal sex with a man in the preceding one to six months, the blood service could be extra safe and do both a HIV antibody test and a HIV virus test on their blood. Since the HIV virus shows up in blood tests within two weeks of the date of infection, the one month total exclusion period offers a double-length margin of safety. This would guarantee that the donated blood posed no risk to its recipients.
A change of policy along either of the afore-mentioned lines would not endanger the blood supply. With the specified safeguards, the blood donated would be safe.
The call for change is growing worldwide. The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centres favour ending the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
According to Dr Arthur Caplan, former Chair of the US Government Advisory Panel on Blood Donation: "Letting gay men give blood could help bolster the supply. At one time, long ago, the gay-blood ban may have made sense. But it no longer does.”
The truth is that most gay and bisexual men do not have HIV and will never have HIV. Both the lifetime and 10 year bans are driven by homophobic, stereotypical assumptions, not by scientific facts and medical evidence. For the vast majority of men who have sex with men, their blood is safe to donate. Far from threatening patient’s lives, they can and should help save lives by becoming donors.
13 April 2011 at 00:47
"Research shows that completely removing the current exclusion on blood donation from men who have sex with men would result in a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply. While changing deferral to one year from the last sexual contact would have a lesser effect, it would still increase this risk by 60%.
Soldan K & Sinka K – Vox Sanguinis (2003) 84, p265-273"
This isn't a discrimination issue. Health policy shouldn't be made into a political issue, and neither should it pander to rights groups, it should be led by the best scientific evidence available.
Diagnostic tests for HIV are prohibitively expensive in terms of testing all blood donations. As such, the most safe and affordable way is to eliminate certain groups which are statistically higher risk. This includes, but is not limited to, homosexual males.
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
The Malta Gay Rights Movement and human rights NGO aditus in a joint statement have condemned the government for its incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive as is applies to same-sex couples.
The MGRM said it had been raising the issue of the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive for some time now, both with the European Commission through its affiliation with ILGA-Europe, as well as with local politicians.
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]
Despite Malta’s policy of non-recognition of same-sex marriages, registered partnerships or any form of same-sex relationship is obligatory.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement and human rights NGO aditus have condemned the government of Malta for its incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive as is applies to same-sex couples.
Despite Malta’s absolute policy of non-recognition of same-sex marriages, registered partnerships or any form of same-sex relationship, the Freedom of Movement Directive is nonetheless obligatory, aditus chairperson Dr Neil Falzon said.
“It requires the competent authorities to facilitate the entry and residence of a third country national’s same-sex spouse or partner, as long as the relationship is a durable one. Furthermore, the Directive also obliges the authorities to justify any denial of entry or residence to such persons.”
Malta Gay Rights Movement coordinator Gabriella Calleja said Malta’scurrent policy approach results in a possible violation of the Directive, and an intrusion in the private and family lives of EU citizens and, where applicable, their same-sex spouses or partners.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement has been raising the issue of the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive for some time now both with the European Commission through its affiliation with ILGA-Europe, as well as with local politicians.
Where both members of the couple are EU citizens, the lack of a cross-border recognition of their same-sex union leads to the anomalous situation where, upon relocation to Malta, they effectively lose their civil status, together with the attendant rights and responsibilities attached to such status.
And where one member of the couple is a third country national, Malta denies the right to freedom of movement by refusing to facilitate entry and residence, as clearly required by the Directive. This ultimately results in the couple being required to move to another EU Member State that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, or to possibly end the relationship if relocation is undesirable or impracticable.
“This simply because the government is too bigoted to recognise the inherent dignity in all persons and that love between two people should be celebrated and acknowledged irrespective of the gender of the couple,” MGRM coordinator Gabriella Calleja said.
“It is reprehensible that the government of Malta hides behind a self-determined policy of same-sex relationships being ‘against public policy’, in justifying its homophobic and discriminatory stance, and in effect negating and denying the legitimacy and worth of thousands of local, loving same-sex relationships.”
MGRM said through the intervention of MP Evarist Bartolo it submitted a Parliamentary Question regarding the government’s position with respect to the freedom of movement of same-sex couples wishing to enter and reside in Malta.
“The responses received were evasive and unsatisfactory. Furthermore, the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive was discussed in a meeting held recently with Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici. The Minister denied any knowledge of the issue and stated his preference for dealing with such situations on a case-by-case basis.”
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on Malta Today's website.]
• Jiena gay u ili ngħix mal-ħabib tiegħi għal dawn l-aħħar ħdax-il sena. Nixtieq inkun naf mingħandek jekk aħna t-tnejn li nħobbu ħafna lil xulxin nistgħux ngħixu ta’ kattoliċi bħal oħrajn. Inħobbu lil xulxin u rridu wkoll inħobbu lil Alla. Minn meta konna żgħar konna attivi fil-Knisja u f’għaqda kattolika. It-tnejn attendejna skola tal-Knisja.
Irġiel li nħobbu lil xulxin
Li tkun gay: mixja ta’ fidi
Fr Colin iwiegeb:
• Forsi nista’ nidher li nagħtik tweġiba sempliċi u diretta għall-mistoqsija sempliċi u diretta tagħkom. Inti u l-ħabib tiegħek qegħdin tistaqsuni li ladarba aħna omosesswali u qegħdin ngħixu flimkien allura nistgħu nkunu kattoliċi tajbin u kattoliċi prattikanti. It-tweġiba sempliċi hi: għaliex le?
Stajt waqaft hawn. Imma nħoss li wara l-mistoqsija tagħkom hemm wisq iżjed mistoqsijiet, biżgħat, inċertezzi, sfiduċja, rabja.
Il-mistoqsija tagħkom tagħmel sens ukoll meta tqis li qegħdin tgħixu f’pajjiż bħal Malta u Għawdex fejn il-biża’ mill-omosesswalità u mill-omosesswali hija parti mill-kultura dominanti tagħna.
Il-maġġoranza tal-Maltin huma omofobi, jibżgħu mill-omosesswali. Nies Maltin li huma kattoliċi, inħoss, li fil-maġġoranza tagħhom huma wkoll omofobi.
Il-Knisja Maltija hija parti mill-kultura Maltija li ffurmata u tagħtiha identità.
Il-preġudizzji fost il-membri Maltin tal-Knisja kattolika, għalhekk, nifhimhom u naċċettahom bħala parti mir-realtà Maltija. (Nitkellem fuq Malta, imma dan ma japplikax biss għal Malta).
Jidher, għalhekk, li l-fidi kattolika tagħna teħodha kontra l-omosesswali u l-omosesswalità. Ħafna drabi lanqas biss issir id-differenza bejn dawn iż-żewġ realtajiet.
Ikolli nistqarr li dan iġiegħlni nbati ħafna. Iltqajt, u niltaqa’ spiss, ma’omosesswali kattoliċi li jħossuhom imwarrbin mill-Knisja Maltija. Naf b’bosta omosesswali li jħobbu ħafna lil Alla, lil Ġesù Kristu u lill-Knisja Kattolika li tgħammdu fiha. Iħobbu l-Vanġelu u jippruvaw jgħixuh. ħafna drabi, però, iħossuhom mogħtija bis-sieq minn ċerti nies tal-Knisja. Dan m’għandux ikun. Dan ma jaqbilx mal-Vanġelu.
Nixtieqkom iżżommu quddiem għajnejkom li l-ewwel u qabel kollox intom għandkom tqisu lilkom infuskom bħala bnedmin, tad-demm u l-laħam, bix-xewqat, ħolm, aspettattivi, ferħ u niket bħal kull persuna oħra. M’intomx biss omosesswali. Ħadd m’għandu jiġġudika l-persuni fuq l-orjentament sesswali tagħhom.
Id-dokument “Kura Pastorali dwar Persuni Omosesswali” (1986) jistqarr li ħadd m’għandu jiġġudika lil persuna biss għax hi omosesswali. Ma nistax inħares lejkom, għalhekk, bħala prinċipalment omosesswali imma bħala bnedmin. Bħala bnedmin kull wieħed minnkom huwa uniku, frott tar-realtà li twelidtu fiha, trabbejtu fiha u kbirtu fiha.
L-istorja tagħkom hi unika, irrepetibbli. Qatt fl-istorja tal-umanità ma kien hawn u qattmhu se jkun hawn persuni uniċi bhalkom. Għandkom l-istorja unika tagħkom. Din l-istorja hija r-rieda t’Alla għalikom.
Meta nkellem l-omosesswali – u kuntent li kemm-il darba kelli l-okkażjoni li kont mistieden – inħoss li qed niltaqa’ ma’ persuna, u mhux ma’ xi karatteristika ta’ dik il-persuna. Id- dimensjoni sesswali mhux “xi ħaġa” maqtugħa mill-persuna. Kull persuna hija persuna sesswali.
Meta nqis l-omosesswali b’dan il-mod inħoss li nkun qed inħobb bħal Ġesù. Kull min iltaqa’ ma’ Ġesù ħassu milqugħ bħala persuna u mhux bħala xi karatteristika tiegħu jew tagħha: il-mod kif kien jitkellem mal-barranija mis-Sammarija, is-Samaritana; il-mod kif laqa’ lill-adultera; il-mod kif wera li qed jitrattaha bħala persuna u mhux bħala oġġett. Ta d-dinjità ta’ bniedem! Huwa jaf x’hemm fil-qalb tal-bniedem; kien iħares lejn il-bniedem sħiħ – u mhux biss bħala xi karateristika tiegħu jew tagħha.
Ġesù kien jara lill-persuna maħbuba minn Alla, u mhux biss “il-pubblikan”. “il-prostituta”, “il-marid”... Kienu l-Fariżej, il-qassisin Lhud, li kienu jħarsu lejn in-nies biss bħala parti minnhom u mhux bħala bnedmin sħaħ. Kienu l-Fariżej li jiġġudikaw bl-iktar mod sempliċista min hu ma’ Alla u min hu kontra tiegħu...
Intom koppja, tnejn min-nies li tħobbu lil xulxin u għamiltu ċerta għażla għal diversi snin. Qegħdin tagħmlu Mixja ta’ Fidi flimkien. Qegħdin tippruvaw taraw kif tħobbu lil Alla u kif tħobbu lil xulxin. Turi li jimpurtakom ħafna li
tkunu tafu kif il-Knisja tħares lejkom u tħobbkom. Hawn min jiġi jaqa’ u jqum minn dan kollu imma intom le. Qegħdin tippruvaw issibu postkom fil- Pjan li Alla Mħabba għandu għalikom.
Napprezza ħafna jekk issibu ħin biex nitkellmu iżjed u nippruvaw nifhmu iktar lil xulxin. Ġesù ma jgħidx “min hu gay jew eterosesswali ma jistax ikun dixxiplu tiegħi!” Ġesù jitkellem fuq il-Mixja tal-Imħabba u l-Fidi sħiħa – għalhekk is-Salib kuljum!
Meta dan is-sens tas-sagrifiċċju jidħol fil-ħajja tal-koppja u fil-mod tagħkom kif tgħixu allura nista’ niżgurakom li tistgħu tkunu dixxipli veri ta’ Ġesù Kristu u membri sħaħ tal-Knisja Kattolika. Meta l-imħabba vera, lesta għas-sagrifiċċju u s-Salib, bir-rinunzji li l-imħabba vera ġġib magħha, u dan isir l-istil tal-ħajja tagħkom, allura, awguri, għax qegħdin flimkien fil-Mixja ta’ Fidi li aħna lkoll imsejħin għaliha.
Dil-Mixja ta’ Fidi daqqa tħossukom li qiegħda tgħaġġlu żżejjed, daqqa tħossukom li mexjin lura, daqqa tħossukom li mblukkajtu... Imma, kuraġġ,
tibżgħux, komplu Imxu. M’intomx weħedkom.
Nistenna t-tweġiba tagħkom. Niżgurakom li l-mistoqsija li għamiltuli hija anki d-domand tiegħi stess għax kuljum, kif inqum fil-għodu, nitlob lil Alla li jagħtini s-saħħa u l-kuraġġ li nkun nisrani tajjeb.
|Seduta:||334 - 04/04/2011 06:00 PM|
|Titlu:||Gender reallignment surgery|
L-Onorevoli OWEN BONNICI
staqsa lill-Onorevoli JOSEPH CASSAR (Ministru tas-Saħħa, l-Anzjani u l-Kura fil-Komunità):
Jista' l-Ministru jgħid jekk Malta għandniex faċilitajiet pubbliċi jew privati biex isir gender reallignment surgery? Jekk iva, jista' jagħti d-dettalji fejn dan jista' jsir? Jekk le, jaħsibx li għandu jingħata dan is-servizz fejn il-gvern għallinqas joħroġ imqar frazzjon mill-ispiża, tenut kont anke li ċertu surgeries ta' dan it-tip qed isiru minn Maltin fis-Serbja li hu pajjiż għal kollox estranju minn tagħna inkluż fil-lingwa?
- Infurmat li fis-settur pubbliku ma jeżistux faċilitajiet biex issir gender realignment surgery. Sallum ma hemmx pjanijiet biex jiġi ntrodott dan is-servizz.
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Times: Malta 'discriminating' against same sex couples – Commission; Malta to clarify same-sex issue
Sunday, 10th April 2011 by Ivan Camilleri, Brussels
The European Commission is to take legal action against Malta for discriminating against EU nationals in same-sex relationships, The Sunday Times has learnt.
Behind closed doors discussions between Malta and Brussels on the interpretation of the free movement directive with regards to same-sex issues have been going on for a year, but remain unresolved .
Malta has been given until mid-May to respond to the Commission's first-stage of legal procedures. The Commission will then decide whet her to proceed further with the issue.
The third anniversary of the Drachma Parents' Group will be commemorated with a thanksgiving Mass for all lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, their relatives and friends.
The Mass will be held on Wednesday 20 April at the Millennium Chapel, Paceville at 7.30pm. A get-together and refreshments will follow.
For more info visit: http://www.maltagayrights.net/DrachmaParents
5th April 2011
Health Minister says there are no surgery facilities or health care coverage in the country. This is depsite the fact tha Maltese legislation requires sterility and heavy invasive surgery in order to change gender markers.
Malta is in constant breach of human rights of trans people. The Maltese Health Minister Joseph Cassar confirmed on a parliamentary question that facilities for gender confirming surgeries are not available in Malta. He did not comment on the question whether treatment (abroad) would be included in public health care schemes.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that countries have the positive obligation to enable gender reassignment surgeries (L v Lithuania) and to include trans health care in their insurance plans (Kück v Germany).
"The case law of the European Court of Human Rights clearly requires states not only to provide for the possibility to undergo surgery leading to full gender-reassignment, but also that insurance plans should cover ''medically necessary'' treatment in general, which gender reassignment surgery is part of." says the Commissioner for Human Rights in his issue paper "Human Rights and Gender identity".Malta needs to pro-actively look into the issues transgender people are facing such as lack of legal gender recognition, access to health care, ability to marry.
Just for changing the name, Malta requires its transgender citizens to psychotherapeutic treatment, evaluation by a qualified mental health professional, real life test, confirmation of outer appearance, hormonal treatment, sex reassignment surgery (SRS), permanent infertility. All of these requirements are in breach of the Yogyakarta principles. The Committee of Ministers stated that prior requirements, including changes of a physical nature, should be regularly reviewed for legal recognition of a gender reassignment, in order to remove abusive requirements. A legislative project to introduce the Gender Identity Bill as proposed by MP Evarista Bartolo and MGRM, the Malta LGBT Organisation, is more than over-due.
Malta is also breaching ECHR case-law regarding the right to marry as a pending case shows. A transsexual woman is currently denied marriage of either sex as the Public Registrar has successfully argued in Court that as a result of gender reassignment, she is neither fully a woman nor a man in spite of existing ECtHR case-law. The case is not in front of the Maltese Constitutional Court.
TGEU urges Malta to end its head-in-the-sand-policies and recognize its responsibility to enable its transgender citizens and residents a life in dignity free from discrimination. Malta is no island -it needs to implement quickly the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights just as any other member state of the Council of Europe, too. This means first of all adopting a new gender recognition legislation and respect the right to marry and coverage of costs for gender reassignment treatment.
Read more on the situation of trans people in Malta here.
[Related article published by James Debono , Maltatoday - Wednesday, April 6 - page 4. The article hasn't been publuished on-line so far.]
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Jan van Breda (left) and his partner Thijs Timmermans cutting the cake after their wedding. Photo: Evert Elzinga/AFP
The Netherlands celebrated the 10th anniversary of the world’s first legally binding gay marriage with another set of nuptials, mixing the formal with the casual.
“I declare you, in my position as mayor of Amsterdam, joined by the rights of marriage,” Eberhart van der Laan told Jan van Breda and his partner Thijs Timmermans at the Museum of History in the heart of Amsterdam.
The happy couple, dressed in dark formal suits with a mauve shirt for one and black T-shirt for the other, turned up for the ceremony on foot, with Mr van Breda holding a red balloon in the shape of a heart carrying the figure “10”.
“Your personal ceremony takes place in a wider context,” mayor Mr van der Laan told the happy, tearful couple.
“It is exactly 10 years ago today that the first same-sex marriage was celebrated by my predecessor,” he added.
On that occasion, it was Helene Faasen and Anne-Marie Thus who walked down the aisle into the history books as the world’s first legally wed lesbian couple, alongside three pairs of grooms.
“I was not in office then, but I remember that as a citizen of the Netherlands, as an Amsterdammer, it made me very proud,” Mr van der Laan said.
“It is a symbolic, special day,” added Mr Timmermans. “The Netherlands is the first country where gay couples can marry. I’m proud of that, it should be normal.
“It is a pity that all those people in all those other countries still have to live undercover. It is not about being homosexual, it is about loving one another.”
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001. Ms Faasen and Ms Thus, both in traditional, flowing wedding gowns, exchanged the first vows alongside three all-male pairs in Amsterdam on April 1 that year before then-mayor Job Cohen.
“The ambiance was wonderful: a mix of enthusiasm and surrealism,” 51-year-old Dolf Pasker said of the day that he married his sweetheart Gert Kasteel – one of the three groom couples.
Since then, nearly 15,000 gay and lesbian couples have wed in The Netherlands – about two per cent of the total number of marriages registered between 2001 and 2010, based on figures from the Central Statistics Bureau.
According to the Amsterdam-based COC, the world’s oldest homosexual advocacy group, there are about a million gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Netherlands out of a total population of 16.7 million.
Nine other countries, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina have also since legalised gay marriage.
To celebrate the landmark anniversary, an exhibition of a selection of photographs of same-sex marriages was opened at an Amsterdam hotel .
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No facilities exist in the public sector for gender realignment surgery and there are no plans for such services to be introduced, Health Minister Joseph Cassar has said in reply to a Parliamentary question.
Labour MP Owen Bonnici asked if such facilities existed and if the minister felt that the government should, at least, cover a fracton of the cost of such operations since some people were having such operations carried out abroad, even in Serbia.
The minister gave no further details.
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