Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Times: ‘Schools’ key role against anti-gay bullying’
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 by Kristina Chetcuti

British psychotherapist Dominic Davies will be in Malta next month.

Schools have an important role to play in transmitting a very strong message against homophobic and transphobic bullying, according to a British psychotherapist.

Dominic Davies, founder and director of an internationally recognised gender and sexual diversity therapy organisation in the UK, said the message that bullying of this nature was unacceptable should be in school curriculums.

“We are raised in a society that looks at LGBT people with certain negative attitudes; somehow we need to undo that,” he said.

Mr Davies, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, was speaking to The Times ahead of his visit to Malta next month.

He has been invited to address a two-day seminar to help professionals learn more about those who identify as lesbian, gay, bi­sexual and transgender.

In his workshop he will be addressing the core clinical issues affecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and he hopes “to empower people to offer good quality psychological help”.

Slowly, the message gets across that discrimination isn’t acceptable

The future looks more positive, however, and he said in London people of the same sex could be seen walking about expressing affection.

“When I was their age that would never have been acceptable and you would be beaten up,” he said.

Cognisant of the present debate to draft a Bill on civil unions, one of Labour’s electoral pledges, Mr Davies drew a parallel with what happened in the UK.

He felt the UK had “made a mistake” by opting for civil partnerships instead of gay marriage in 2005.

“Britain should have gone for gay marriage from the outset – it’s a big deal all over again now,” he said, referring to the recent protests and furore over whether same-sex marriage should be entrenched in the UK law even though the Civil Partnership Act was introduced in 2005.

He cited Spain as the “the more open way” of officialising gay and lesbian relationships.

“The [then] Prime Minister Zapatero introduced it within two weeks of his being elected, which he could do because legally it was the same marriage law as that of heterosexuals.”

With more than 30 years of counselling and psychotherapy experience under his belt, Mr Davies stressed the importance of having legal frameworks in place.

“Even if there are individuals who want to discriminate... they don’t have the right to do so and their discrimination can be legally and socially challenged,” he said.

Although this may not necessarily decrease abuse, it meant perpetrators could be brought to justice, and he added: “Slowly, the message gets across that discrimination isn’t acceptable.”

The seminar Understanding Gender and Sexual Diversity is being organised by Maia Psychology Centre on May 10 and 11.

For information e-mail or call 9989 0878 or 9982 2378.

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