Thursday, 26 December 2013

Independent: Maltese EP officecauses Frenchuproar through Facebook
Monday, 09 December 2013, 12:00 , by John Cordina

The European Parliament office in Malta’s decision to upload a picture featuring a gay couple on its Facebook page caused no ripples in Malta, but led to particularly virulent criticism from a conservative French news-site.

For its Facebook page, the Valletta-based EP office produces what it calls “Ewritratti,” captioned pictures through which it seeks to generate discussion and raise awareness of what MEPs actually do.

The themes vary widely: for instance, one of the pictures uploaded last week features pastizzi, and asks whether they should be recognised as part of Europe’s culinary heritage. The caption includes a link to a webpage explaining the EU’s schemes to promote and protect agricultural products and foodstuffs.

Other topics covered include China, bluefin tuna, children’s toys and gender equality.

But it was not the pastizzi – or any other topic mentioned above – which led Nouvelles de France (NdF), which describes itself as a “liberal-conservative portal,” to declare itself outraged at the propaganda coming from the EP office in Malta.

The picture which triggered an uproar featured two men kissing, and stated that “the European Parliament is there for you, whoever you may love.” The EP office further explains that MEPs adopted a resolution stating that homophobic and transphobic speech should be treated in the same way racist speech is.

NdF translated what was said, in a caption story headlined “Homosexualist propaganda from the European Parliament in Malta.” The word gay, which is also used in French, is studiously avoided, a common phenomenon among those opposed to gay rights.

“Malta is a Catholic and conservative European country, making it a prime target for the homosexual lobby,” the portal adds.

The comments the story attracted vary: some quote scripture; others insist that they should not pay taxes for an institution funding the destruction of civilisation, while a few comments are arguably too offensive to be reproduced. Curiously, one questions Malta’s Catholic and conservative credentials, arguing that the country is seeking to supplant Ibiza and is a haven for online gambling companies.

Strangely enough, however, no such uproar was created in Malta: the most controversial comments actually came from overseas.

But this may be due to different political situations: while all Maltese political parties favour introducing civil unions, the legalisation of same-sex marriage last May has proven to be highly divisive in France.

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