Sunday, 13 January 2013

Independent: Labour to Introduce Civil Union for Same-Sex Couples
Saturday, 12 January 2013, 18:47 , by Duncan Barry

Celine Paris, a transsexual, said that at times "we are viewed as UFOs".

Labour leader Joseph Muscat revealed that he will appoint a person whose role will be that of overseeing civil rights - a necessary move in today’s day and age, while a civil union for same-sex couples will also be introduced.

He added that a consultative council will also be set up for LGBT NGOs to advise government on issues related to the LGBT community.

Dr Muscat was speaking during a seminar themed ‘Malta Taghna Lkoll’ and organised by Labour’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered rights group this evening at Corinthia Palace, Attard.

Dr Muscat said: “We will be working hard to make drastic changes in the community.

“This is not a question of tolerance. This is a question of an issue that needs addressing, a civil right, but one that must be implemented with great responsibility.”

The employment commission will also be strengthened to make sure employees are not discriminated against at the place of work.

He said that the PL will receive a lot of criticism over such proposals, however added that we will not fear scaremongering that may ensue as a result.

In his opening remarks, Labour’s gay activist Cyrus Engerer said that LGBT Labour was formed because there was no form of recognition for same-sex couples in Malta as yet.

He said that same-sex couples are inexistent in front of Maltese law, adding that the stigma that exists was so evident that people who were asked to be interviewed as part of LGBT’s testimonials screened during the seminar, feared they would lose their job as a result.

Mr Engerer was referring to a series of testimonials screened during the seminar which saw a number of gay men and women publically speak about their experiences. He also emphasised that it was high time that same-sex couples were recognised.

One of the speakers, Franklin Cachia, said he was lucky to have been accepted by his family and friends when he broke the news he was gay, opposed to the many gay people who weren’t accepted and faced a number of difficulties on their coming out.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we are being discriminated against since same-sex couples cannot get married in the same way straight couples did”, expressing his wish to raise children.

Oriana Farrugia, one of a group of students who constantly participates in the National Youth Parliament, emerged saying that gay marriage needed to be introduced.

An emotional Farrugia highlighted that a number of friends of hers were discriminated against because the law failed to recognise them, adding that she knew of many gay people who had committed or contemplated suicide as a result of not being accepted in society.

Hairdresser by profession Celine Paris, a transsexual, said that at times, we are viewed as ‘UFOs’. She said that she didn’t go down the road of contemplating or committing suicide and decided to set a business up while battling out the situation she was in.

She lamented the fact that the State doesn’t grant transgenders their preferred gender, like changing the name and sex on birth certificates, civil registers, identity cards, passports, and other similar documents.

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