Saturday, 2 May 2015

Times: Rules of crossing the road
Friday, April 24, 2015, 00:01 by Fr Richard-Nazzareno Farrugia

I remember as a young boy reading on Id-Denfil – if my memory serves me right – the rules on how to cross the road. I was taught to always cross a street on a zebra crossing. Society and my educators, even in this respect, taught me to be responsible for my life and that of others, even when crossing the road.

Watching a group of kids crossing a road over rainbow colours seems to be a happy and delightful scene, better than the usual and odd black-and-white stripes on the road.

But the educators and government officials assisting them had more than the sole objective of educating children on how to be responsible for their lives.

There was no need to watch out for cars: the police ensured safe passage.

Using the youngest to sustain an ethically debatable stand on the nature of marriage is unacceptable

The issue here was different: to make a statement on civil liberties and celebrate the first anniversary of the introduction of civil unions in our country.

The colourful ground was the LGBTI pride flag, a ‘gift’ from the Maltese government to sustain the UN Free and Equal campaign for LGBTI equality.

Once the speeches were done, the kids were being led not just to cross a road but to form part of an LGBTI pride parade. What else could you call walking on an LGBTI pride flag?

The young participants involved did not know that society was just ‘carrying’ them to serve the purpose of those who seemingly want to impose a culture that, under the guise of openness, progress and equality is, in fact, creating new discriminations, denying the truth of sexual difference and the fact that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

The unwitting kids – since at that age they could not possibly understand the symbolic march they were being driven into – were being paraded to celebrate the introduction of a law that does not seek a child’s best interest, because it does not assure that a child is provided with a mother figure and a father figure.

What kind of society could resort to using kids for ideological propaganda, with ministers, educators and police officers to make it happen?

Were the parents of those kids given the chance to have their say by being informed about their children’s involvement in this ‘pride march’ and their participation in such a celebration?

What’s educational about it all if they couldn’t even understand that they were not just crossing a colourful rainbow but taking part in a symbolic act?

So is this how society should interpret a ‘child’s best interest’, parading them to comply with a particular agenda, not even involving parents in the decision whether they should take part or not?

Is this the beginning of a new and so-called ‘progressive’ method on how the State could take for itself the exclusive right to dictate debatable ethical issues according to its own political agenda?

Frankly, I wouldn’t have objected had this celebration been marked by crossing over the pride colours (zebra crossing) by same-sex couples and all those adults who freely want to participate in such a public manifestation. Doing otherwise would go against the spirit of mutual respect and freedom that is the very essence of a democratic country.

Had it been a march for peace and respect for all human persons irrespective of colour, gender, race, orientation and religion, with the participation of kids, I could have considered it laudable and highly educational, to instil true democratic values in our future generations.

Yet, what happened was to have children sustain LGBTI rights and equality – just LGBTI rights and equality – and have them walk over that same colour code that is the symbol of gay pride. Again, nothing against LGBTI rights but no one could force me to participate in a manifestation without being informed and given the freedom to choose whether to take part or not.

I am proud to form part of a society where every person’s dignity is respected. What I don’t accept is using the youngest to sustain an ethically debatable stand on the nature of marriage.

What sort of democracy is worthy of the name if there is no room for objection to participating in certain public events and commemorations which a citizen disapproves of in conscience?

Mark my words, I am not saying to disrespect the law but to be guaranteed the right to receive an education according to one’s religious and moral convictions and respect parents’ freedom “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions” (UN, International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, art.18).

What happened in Gozo last week was not just the crossing of a road but the crossing of the border that marks the difference between respect for diversity and the imposition of an ideological cultural agenda.

Fr Richard-Nazzareno Farrugia is a lecturer in moral theology.

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