Monday, 2 July 2012

Malta Today: [WATCH] Gay rights march at Sliema attracts just 100 people
30 June 2012 - 12:43, Bianca Caruana

Just 100 persons, including political figures, take part in Gay Pride March calling for marriage equality and gender identity.

People gathering for the Gay Pride March Malta 2012 in Sliema
[More] Photos by Ray Attard/MediaToday

Calling for gender and marriage equality, just 100 persons participated in this morning’s Malta Gay Pride March in Sliema including Justice Minister Chris Said, Labour MP Owen Bonnici and Alternattiva Demokratika spokesperson Angele Deguara.

Sonja Casha, one of the founding members of the Malta Gay Rights Movement, said the turnout may have been affected by the Mnarja festivities but the message was still the same. “At the moment, the political scene is ripe for change. Our main goal is the recognition of marriage right equality, even on a personal level. I would love to marry my partner.

“It is marriage season at the moment, and we hope people will empathise. Many take marriage for granted while we are seeing others getting married with legal recognition when we cannot,” Casha said.

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said that the march was intended to highlight and celebrate equality in diversity within the community and hoped the Cohabitation Bill will encompass this fact.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but I hope that civil partnership and cohabitation will be seen as equal no matter the gender or orientation. It needs to be a law that ensures that we need not resort to another country to obtain equal recognition,” Calleja said.

The MGRM coordinator also hoped for the Gender Identity Bill to start taking form so as to allow transgender persons to change their name and gender without the need undergo sex reassignment surgery.

“This will mean the change will not simply be a cosmetic exercise, but effective recognition of each individual’s right to determine their own gender and to have this recognised by the state in all spheres of life,” Calleja said.

Present for a Gay Pride March for the first time as Minister, Said said it was important to keep stressing the message for an inclusive society to include diversity.

“We are still not there. We need to fight discrimination. I am very satisfied that since being made responsible for this area in January, two pieces of legislation have been passed which are the amendment to the Hate Crime law and the widening of the remit of NCPE,” Said said.

Speaking on the Cohabitation Bill, the minister said that the motion had been presented to the Nationalist Party’s parliamentary group for discussion and hoped it will be published for public discussion in coming weeks.

“With regards the Gender Identity Bill, it has been presented in Parliament as a private bill and we are currently in consultation with MGRM and other stakeholders to discuss the details,” he said.

American Ambassador to Malta Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley said that it was everyone’s responsibility to observe human rights. “These need to be respected no matter their gender. Like President Barack Obama is doing in the US, we need to respect their rights.”

Bonnici said that he strongly believed in human rights and said that this should extend to all forms of relationships. “I believe that whenever love and relationships are involved, there should be no classification of first or third divisions. Love is the most important thing and should be dignified.”

Deguara said she had been participating in these marches for many years because of her strong belief in embracing and celebrating diversity.

“Unfortunately many LGBT people do not yet have the courage or feel unable to participate in the Pride Parade, which reveals that LGBT people in our society are not yet comfortably to reveal their sexual orientation in public,” Deguara said.

Deguara said that AD was also concerned about the troubles of transgender persons because they still faced a lot of discrimination and uncertainties apart from not being provided with gender reassignment surgery free of charge by state health services.

“There are still many obstacles in terms of their official documents which should be changed to reflect their new identity as well as in relation to marriage.

“AD believes that transgender persons should be allowed to marry, in line with European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence and not left in gender ‘nowhereland’ as they are at present,” Deguara said.

Senior Policy and Training Executive at NCPE Maria Filletti said, “Equality should be in place for everyone, irrespective of background or orientation. We are all hoping for all rights to be respected.”

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