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‘Malta is a political leader in LGBTI rights’ – Swedish Minister

Minister for Civil Liberties Helena Dalli says the government’s commitment on LGBTI rights was a question of right over wrong

james_piscopo
James J. Piscopo
13 May 2014, 8:11pm
Civli Liberties Minister Helena Dalli with Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag
Civli Liberties Minister Helena Dalli with Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag
Malta should serve as an example to other countries who are lacking in LGBTI rights, Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag said this evening.
Opening the second IDAHO forum commemorating the international day against Homophobia (17 May) being held in Valletta, Ullenhag described the Minister for Civil Liberties Helena Dalli as an influential political leader through the work done the past year.
“Ten years ago Malta and Sweden differed substantially on LGBTI issues and civil rights. Now we’re on the same line of thought,” the Swedish minister said.
On her part, Helena Dalli admitted that Malta had a negative track record in the past and that hosting the forum in Malta was a statement in itself.
“Yes, 10 years ago we were oceans apart from countries like Sweden... now we’re just a sea,” Dalli half-jokingly said.
She recounted her experience as Malta’s representative in the first IDAHO meeting last year held in Netherlands, where participants remained surprised with Malta’s presence.
“It’s true that Malta was not on the forefront in this sector. But this government firmly believes in LGBTI rights. It’s a matter of right over wrong, of open-mindedness against prejudice, of equality over discrimination. Nobody chooses how we were born, so why should we differentiate in how we treat each other?” Dalli said.
The second IDAHO forum is being held in Valletta and is co-hosted between Malta and Sweden. The forum brings together numerous international actors that work for LGBTI rights.
On several occasions, those present remarked that Malta made great strides in this sector and even asked Dalli to send a message to other governments that had a conservative approach on LGBTI rights.
“I would tell them the experience I had when a mother of a 16-year old trans phoned me up and recounted her difficulties to have a child who was bullied at school due to his sexuality. To have a child who was not able to function in our society. When I passed on this experience to the Cabinet, the ministers backed me up when I suggested that action was needed to stop this hardship,” the civil liberties minister said.
“It’s a satisfaction to see how much we have worked to address this unfortunate reality,” Dalli added.
“But I don’t totally agree that we’re championing LGBTI rights. We are just giving back rights that every LGBTI person had in the first place.”

james_piscopo
James J. Piscopo joined MaltaToday in 2013 after starting his career as a...
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