Thursday, 29 March 2012

Di-ve: ‘This is not the right time to debate same-sex marriage in parliament’ – Gabi Calleja
14 March 2012 -- 09:30CEST by Gabriel Schembri -

Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) coordinator Gabi Calleja said this was not the right time to have a same-sex marriage bill presented in parliament.

In an interview with, Ms Calleja said it was better that the major political parties cleared up their issues first, since if this bill was rejected, it would take another 5 years before it could be proposed again in parliament.

''MGRM is all in favour of a debate on marriage equality in parliament. What it is against is the wisdom of an MP tabling a private members bill without discussion with the LGBT movement especially if both parties were clearly not in favour,'' Ms Calleja clarified.

She said that even if the Labour Party was calling for a civil union and the Nationalist Party insisted on cohabitation, they both eliminated marriage from being a possibility.

‘’If PL is really thinking of establishing the option of a civil union between persons of the same sex, it will be a big step. However, MGRM will not stop fighting before a regular marriage between two of the same sex is accepted. The cohabitation which PN is proposing is still very unclear,’’ she said.

Above all, Ms Calleja said that even if laws were passed, awareness campaigns should never come to an end.

‘’People who live in countries where same sex marriage is accepted still face discrimination. So even if things are actually established at law, awareness and anti-discrimination campaigns should never stop.’’

MsCalleja said MGRM was above all a human rights group that worked by raising awareness.

‘’I do not consider MGRM to be a support group, although we give a lot of support to the persons that come to us. But most of all we are a basic human rights organisation.’’

Ms Calleja explained the major difficult steps that a Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) person experiences.

'’The first problem that LGBTs face is to actually come out and accept they are gay. Some even come with relationship problems especially with their parents. We also give them information about where they can marry since same sex marriage in Malta is still illegal.’’

When asked if she thinks that same sex couples are adequate to raise children, Gabi quoted Fr Rene Camilleri when he said that: ‘’the criteria on which the ability to be a parent is established should not be based on one’s sexual orientation’’. She added that in an adoption case, the regular assessment procedures should be used like with every other couple.

When asked for an opinion on cases where a couple split up because one of them discovered he or she was gay, Gabi said this happened because society did not give LGBT people another option.

‘’A person always experiences, in some way of or another, that he or she is gay. But these people lived in times when gay rights were not considered, and where the only option was to marry a person of the opposite sex. Still these people would eventually come out one day or another. Unfortunately, in some cases, they happen to accept they are gay when they are already married.’’

Looking at MGRM’s future, Gabi Calleja said the present generation is more open-minded to accept gay people. Still, she insists, there is always the need to have more awareness.

‘’Presently we are going through a period of legislative change, so I am hoping that things will be better in the future. Despite all, our awareness campaigns will not stop until LGBT have same rights as everybody else,’’ said Ms Calleja.

The Malta Gay Right Movement (MGRM) evolved out of the Pride Malta organisation in 2001 with the aim to offer a gay helpline in Malta.

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