MGRM’s Gabi Calleja urges gay community to ‘vote wisely’

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja says Labour recognises the need for more equality and urges gay community to weigh-up its options properly and vote wisely in forthcoming general election.

Gabi Calleja said Labour is acknowledging the need for more rights for same-sex couples.
Gabi Calleja said Labour is acknowledging the need for more rights for same-sex couples.

The LGBT community should weigh up their options well and choose carefully in the run-up to the forthcoming general election, Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) coordinator Gabi Calleja said.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Calleja explained that following this week's events in which both major political parties discussed equality issues, "it is clear that Labour recognises more gay rights while the Nationalist Party has consistently said no to more gay rights, as can be seen in the IVF and Cohabitation bills which were recently launched."

According to Calleja, out of the two big parties, the Labour Party is the closest to the movement's position on equality.

MGRM have been calling for full equality including adoption, IVF and same-sex marriage, on a par with marriage between heterosexuals.

On Tuesday, the MGRM coordinator was a guest at Labour's congress which is set to provide the party with an outline for its political manifesto. On equality and diversity, the Labour congress approved a vague motion calling for a free society.

In contrast, during a political debate organised by the Nationalist Party in Floriana as part of the Independence festivities, sections of the audience booed when Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was asked whether he was ready to recognise gay couples as families, after incurring the wrath of the gay community over the cohabitation bill. Gonzi however told his supporters to respect, saying "other people's personal aspirations... everybody has their dignity."

The PN leader pointed out that marriage "is for a man and a woman," to his audience's applause. "But this doesn't mean we shouldn't recognise other forms of families."

Gabi Calleja explained that although she was not present for the PN debate "it is clear that the PN has a different message on gay rights," while Labour has taken a different direction and accepted the rights of same-sex couples.

"The impression I have is that Labour recognises the need for more rights and on the other hand the Nationalist Party has been consistent in saying no to more rights for same-sex couples," she said.

While noting that gay persons do not only vote on equality issues, Calleja added that in the run-up to the looming election, "the gay community must weigh up its options and choose wisely."

Asked whether the difference between the two major parties is a result of ideological differences or a result of political expediency, Calleja said: "I do not know what the motivations are, but Labour is acknowledging the importance of equality issues."

As equality is increasingly becoming a mainstream issue, the two major parties have stepped up their efforts to attract the gay vote. While the PN struggles to find a balance between its own mixture of confessional conservatism and liberalism, Labour has been non-committal and mainly rests on its leader's stands.

Unlike the Labour Party, which shied away from taking a position on divorce, giving its leader Joseph Muscat a free reign to push his "progressive" agenda by taking a personal stand in favour of divorce, the PN had taken a stand against divorce.

After the divorce referendum in 2011, the PN tried to come to terms with the new reality in its 'Our Roots' document: which not only accepted the new reality of divorce but anticipated the future by coming close to supporting the concept of State recognition of same-sex couples.

The document loosely states, "the State cannot close its eyes to this issue and has to legislate wherever necessary to establish the rights and duties of those living in cohabitation, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual."

On gay rights Labour has so far said that it supports the recognition of same-sex relationships. In a recent interview with MaltaToday, Joseph Muscat hinted that his own party's proposals for civil unions do not actually exclude the possibility of adoption by gay couples.

But the party's concrete proposals on the matter are yet unknown and the guide-line adopted during the party's congress this week gave no indication of what direction the party will take. 

Gabi Calleja said MGRM has held discussions with all political parties, including Alternattiva Demokratika, which fully endorsed MGRM's position regarding marriage equality and parenthood.

"Ideologically, Alternattiva Demokratika are the closest to MGRM as they full endorsed our positions, however one must keep in mind the limited political strength the Greens have in Malta," Calleja said.

More in National
Emanuel Ghirxi
The LGBT community know how they were treated by the PN especially by its supporters last Thursday.The homophobic reactions serve as a warning to the LGBT community for the future.
Nikki Petroni
@Anatta1 ... It should be remembered that by finally granting gay people similar rights and responsibilities to a marriage, one is not taking away anything from heterosexual couples! … And the introduction of divorce did not force families who were living happily married to each other to split up!!! ... The underlying issues for the breakdown of a partnership/marriage is very complex, which cannot be properly explored in a few sentences. Divorce is simply a mechanism for those families whose life together has irreparably broken down to have a chance to start again! … If you believe, as you write – and I agree with you – that the “best type of partnership available remains a conservative family”, then you, like I, should also consider support that similar rights and obligations be finally granted to gay couples, so that they too can become pillars of society … A wonderful day to all …
Aldo Briffa
Remember to talk about your obligations too. Remember heterosexual couples will always remain the overwhelming bigger segment in all societies. This type is needed for new stock of people. Gays may also be experiencing too that loyalty amongst couples so much so that divorce was brought in with all its repercussions, i.e. termination of a family unit, children moving to and fro, distribution of assets, payments to lawyers, financial stress where split up family members have a higher risk of falling below the poverty line. Putting morality, religion, and all other reasons/ excuses brought about during the divorce debate, the best type of partnership available remains a conservative family, and it is high time that its rights are discussed. Everyone on the otherhand should respect all other choices. Each individual has an obligation towards the well being of society, and one's decision of voting, at least in economic theory, should be tied to this overall progress. Good day to all readers.
Nikki Petroni
Yes indeed one should always vote wisely! The PN said it would give gay rights since 1998 ... and where are we? Finally they present a half-baked motion after all these years -- and one must give them credit that they also managed to insult the gay community while doing it by insisting that gay couples are not a 'family'. As if these high and might arrogant holier-than-thou can even come close to morally judge others!!! It was Mintoff who in the 1970s decriminalized gays ... and if we look at Europe and the rest of the world we can see that it was always the left that gave human dignity to those at the periphery of society! And this did not only mean gays. Ms Calleja says that gay rights are not the only factor to be taken into account in an election -- true in a sense, however at some point it also becomes an issue of identity and self-pride as well. There are on average 15% gay-oriented people in most societies. They too have mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, not to mention very close non-gay friends and families. And if these family members love their gay sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends, then they too should stand up and be counted!!! Then we shall see if the gay vote would count or not! ... But really what is the big deal actually??? Why should the state burden itself with defining what is a family and what is not? Why do we need to put everything in a constricting, suffocating straight-jacket? Why should it bother me or anyone else that two men, or two women, who maybe have lived together for years, have shared all they have together, may now finally be able to have their relationship recognized, and be given certain rights and responsibilities similar to marriage by the State? What is it with right-wing men (it is mostly men I fear) that they need to see enemies everywhere? And what is it with regards to gays that makes them so insecure??? A man who is secure in his own identify (be he hetero or homosexual) should not really be so bothered!
Narcy Calamatta
Gaby...Tghamilx l-istess zball li ghamel il president ta l-ghaqda tan nassaba u il kaccaturi F.K.N.K is sur Lino Farrugia...meta gejna ghal l-elezzjoni. Huwa ukoll kien qallhom biex jivvutaw ` wisely `. u aktar hawwadhom...Ghandek tkun cara daqs il kristal. Il partit nazzjonalista ma iridx jaf bikhom..forsi smajtuhom kemm ibbuwjawkhom...u Hemm il partit laburista li diga ghandu fergha fi hdan il partit li tirraprezenta cittadini bhalkhom..Kun cara,il P.L. jgharafkhom bhala cittadini daqs kullhadd, ghax it taxxi daqs kull cittadin iehor thallsuhom.. u umbaghad kullhadd jghamel kif irid...
Saviour Micallef
fejn hu il mexxej!!!! ta l-A.D.???? Dr brigulio? dak li tant ikun pront biex ghal kull haga ta xejn johrog jikritika lil Muscat, semaw lil Gonzi fuq il fosos meta gurnalist staqsieh fuq zwiec ta listes sess? u kif il folla?!?! prezenti ibbujat lil listes gurnalista? semahha ir-risposta ta Gonzi jew kien qed jihu nasa?

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition