Prime Minister calls for end to transphobia and homophobia

‘Declaration of intent proposed by Malta and Sweden is a must: we cannot have à la carte intent to fight discrimination’ – PM

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called for an end to transphobia and homophobia and lauded a joint declaration of intent being proposed by Malta and Sweden in order to combat discrimination and ensure the LGBTI community enjoys its rights.

Addressing the second IDAHO forum commemorating the international day against homophobia, Muscat welcomed representatives of various governments to Malta, including the Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag.

“Welcome to a new Malta that is fighting discrimination at every turn,” the Prime Minister told the foreigners and gay activists.

“Simple gestures are as effective as legislative tools and the declaration of intent is a step forward. À la carte commitment is not enough… we need to stamp out homophobia and transphobia once and for all.”

Pointing out that Malta was making giant steps in supporting the fight against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, he said other countries have taken a step backwards giving legitimacy to discrimination.

Muscat recounted attending a wedding between a man and a transgender and witnessing a day full of love and joy.

“Everything made it more special and isn’t this the sort of society we want to live in? To accept and embrace all forms of love?” he said.

Muscat said it was encouraging to see so many governments and civil society representatives in Malta participating in the conference. He reminded how the gay lobby in Malta and the Labour party campaigned vigorously for civil unions at a par with marriage.

“It wasn’t easy but we have delivered our promise. We worked in partnership whith those who have suffered discrimination and our policies were built on real needs,” he added.

In preparation for the civil unions legislation, the government set up a consultative council empowered to make legislative proposals. The legislation also extended the right to gay couples to adopt.

“I can’t tell you whether there were more gay or straight people rejoicing at the enactment of the law. But St George’s Square was lit up with life and colour. I saw honest people celebrating advanced human rights,” Muscat said to a cheering audience.

Malta has also become the first country where discrimination against gender identity – and sexual orientation – is named in the country’s supreme law, the Constitution.

The reference was inserted in the Constitution following a private member’s bill presented by the Opposition. The amendment to the Constitution was approved unanimously.

“Progress can happen quickly if there is the will. The people are championing the change out of the values of love and respect, guided by politicians who don’t want to be led by prejudice,” the PM said.

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