Dad, political sociologist, local councillor, drummer from Malta

Friday, August 31, 2012

Gays’ right to get married

Michael Briguglio

The Times, August 31st, 2012

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120831/opinion/Gays-right-to-get-married.435053


It was with great pleasure that in a recent meeting between Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party and the Malta Gay Rights Movement, we were in synch in all issues under discussion. To put things simply, AD is the only political party in Malta which fully endorses the official proposals of MGRM. Compared to AD’s position, the Nationalists’ and Labour’s LGBT pronouncements – or the lack of them – offer either a bad deal or a hotchpotch of vagueness.

We Greens believe that there should be full equality in all aspects of social and family policy, irrespective of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We are also proposing that Malta’s Constitution be amended to prohibit any form of discrimination on the basis of these grounds.

Our position does not come out of nowhere. Indeed, Malta is at rock bottom on LGBT rights in the EU. A key indicator of equality in this regard is the right to marriage, irrespective of one’s sexual orientation. AD has long believed in equality for all in social and family rights. In the past weeks, our executive, following a lengthy internal process, decided to put this ideological infrastructure in more concrete terms than was previously the case.

Indeed, we are now fully endorsing MGRM’s position for recognition of marriages of same-sex in Malta. It does not make sense to speak of equality in family and social policy while only allowing opposite-sex partners to marry. Such exclusionary practice effectively means that symbolic and significant aspects of marriage, such as being “husband” or “wife” can only be articulated, experienced and recognised if one marries someone of the opposite sex. It is indeed ironic that in a day and age of increased separations and divorce, couples who wish to marry are denied this right solely because of their sexual orientation.

If anything, recognition of same-sex marriages can lead to the strengthening of the concept of the family, through a process of social inclusion and recognition of different family forms.

More and more societies, governments, NGOs, political leaders, opinion makers and political parties are increasingly recognising this. Within the EU, the influence of the European Greens is of great importance for such progressive change. Green Parties in government coalitions and within the European Parliament have frequently been the prime movers for such legislation.

As regards adoption, AD believes there should be no discrimination on this right and that every case should be considered on its own merits, irrespective of the identity (like age, sexual orientation, status) of the prospective parent/s, and always taking into consideration the best interests of the child.

This means that ideological opposition to adoption on the grounds of unfounded stereotypes should be done away with.

Children can experience happiness in different family forms, provided that they are loved and cared for. As far as I know, love is not an exclusive monopoly of one particular identity.

With regard to the current IVF debate, AD also believes there should be no form of discrimination, for example, as regards one’s sexual orientation, in access to this right. I have had the opportunity to discuss this in more detail in a recent article in The Times.

Last but not least, AD also endorses MGRM’s Gender Identity Act proposal, which calls for expedient legal gender recognition and for gender reassignment procedures under the national health care service.

Transgender people keep experiencing marginalisation in Maltese society, and Joanne Cassar’s European court case is a case in point. It is shameful that Malta’s State institutions discriminate against citizens who are trying to have their identity recognised.

Instead of such Kafkaesque identity annihilation, we Greens are proposing that discrimination against transgender persons should be formally addressed within Malta’s legislation.

Our recent meeting with MGRM was not the first one, and it will not be the last. As a Green activist, and in the past three years, as Green chairperson, I have learned a lot from this movement which continues to stand up and be counted despite the adversities it encounters. AD wants to learn more from the LGBT community and our election in Parliament would lead to a parliamentary process of continuous consultation to address discrimination in policy and legislation. For us, LGBT rights – like other civil, family and social rights – are not to be dealt with as handouts, usually of the vague type. We are for rights and social justice and not for the begging of favours to political patriarchs. Our position is based on principle and ideological clarity and not on mathematical convenience.

In short, LGBT persons should no longer be made to feel as second class citizens. As chairperson of the Green Party, I am personally committed to ensure that such discrimination becomes a thing of the past.

The author, a sociologist, is chairman and spokesman for economic policy and culture of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party.


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