Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Independent: Distinguishing mark

Sunday, 02 March 2014, 09:00 , by Charles Flores

At a time when ideological differences continue to become an ever-narrowing gap, with the Left going Right, the Right going Left and the Centre becoming common, convenient territory for all, there is still one particular distinguishing mark that has made an opportune appearance. Here in Malta, it is in how the parties view minority rights.

The divorce referendum is recent enough to cite as a glaring example of how the two major parties have shown, and seem set to continue showing, that they are miles apart when it comes to such rights. That Labour’s yes to divorce was so forcefully backed by a huge majority was already an indication that a shift in Maltese society was taking place without the then GonziPN government even noticing. It was, incredibly, an exact repeat of Labour’s previous failure to read the writing on the wall after the 2003 EU referendum, which result was followed by an electoral defeat soon after.

The divergence between the parties on the issue of minority rights, however, persists, much to the irritation of what I believe is a majority of people on these islands who sincerely hope not only that the whole issue is buried once and for all, but for this nation to finally be on a par with the rest of Europe and most of the Western world.

The hiccups continued last week during Minister Helena Dalli’s appointment with the public in the highly successful “Gvern li Jisma’” series when the meeting was discussing comments and questions on the civil union law being debated at committee stage in Parliament. It was obvious, however, that the Minister was speaking from a position of strength. Her sterling work in the field of minority rights over the past few months has been rightly recognised by many. After all, it is a reflection of the still-fresh Labour administration’s electoral pledge, supported by one of the strongest electoral majorities ever to be achieved in the history of Maltese politics.

It certainly looks like this highly visible distinguishing mark is going to continue featuring prominently as the Maltese people warm to the brave idea that minority rights actually mean rights for people from all walks of life, for loved ones and family members, for kindness, as one social worker declared in his intervention during Dr Dalli’s meeting, and for a free and genuinely considerate society.

Minority rights are not restricted to the LGBT scene. They also refer to people, hard-working men and women, living in cohabitation where, as in the case of straightforward marriages, stories of love, rejection, and other problems abound so society still has the duty to offer cover and protection wherever and whenever needed. Women especially have to face situations where they find themselves abandoned and denied what other women, because they choose to marry in the formal, traditional way, get from the state. Not anymore, however.

It is why it is also annoying to hear the very president of the National Council of Women actually coming out against a civil union law when it will no doubt offer help and protection to women on the LGBT front. Thankfully, her counterpart from the Malta Gay Rights Movement, Gabi Calleja, quickly put her in her place.

[The article deals with other matters which are not related to LGBT issues. You can read the entire article here.]

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