University, MUT condemn transphobic comments made by Stephen Florian

The University of Malta and the Malta Union of Teachers distance themselves from discriminatory comments made by lecturer Stephen Florian

Stephen Florian
Stephen Florian

The University of Malta has “unreservedly” dissociated itself from all actions, verbal or otherwise, “which attempt to promote discrimination and/or incitement to racial hatred against any groups of people.”

This came after lecturer Stephen Florian attacked activist and University student Alex Caruana for being transgender after the 27-year-old held a counter protest during a demonstration by right-wing and Islamophobic group by the Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin.

In a statement issued on Monday, the University of Malta said it was investigating the homophobic comments made by Florian and underlined its commitment to supporting and protecting diversity and the rights of all individuals.

“Whilst affirming the right to freedom of expression and association, the University of Malta condemns all actions which are motivated, wholly or partly by any form of hostility towards diverse groups.”

In his homophobic online rant, for which he has since apologised, Florian said “Time we got to know who Alex Caruana really is and was,” adding that “this girl who now calls herself Alexander, was one of the three atheists who came to photomob [sic] the MPM Bugibba protest and the same one who on Xarabank, blundered in her numbers when stating garbled data about the 'billions' of Muslims living in Malta and worldwide.”

The University of Malta also explained that contrary to some reports Florian is not a full-time academic but a visiting part-time lecturer.

MUT dissociates itself

The Malta Union of Teacher (MUT) also disassociated itself completely from “Florian’s activities, comments, actions associated with third party organisations he might be associated with.”

The MUT noted that it has always been very pro-active in combating discrimination based on race, gender and religion “and there is no way that under the present administration this will change.”

However, the union said that it cannot remove Florian from his position as a delegate representing teachers from the Higher Secondary in Naxxar as delegates are chosen solely by the members on the work place and Florian was elected as delegate last year following the retirement of the previous delegate. 

“Mr Florian has no role within the Union except that of being a link between the members at his school and the Union’s central administration in case there is an issue which concerns members collectively.  If members at the Higher Secondary are unhappy with their choice of delegate they are most welcome to initiate a new process to elect someone new,” the union said.

UMASA condemns bullying

The University of Malta Academic Staff Association (UMASA) also entered the fray and in a statement it said that students and members of staff who feel that they have been victimised can file an official complaint with the University and avail themselves of the procedures stipulated in the bullying and harassment policy.

It added that both complainants and defendants have the right to be represented by their respective unions and student bodies.

UMASA also condemned any form of harassment and bullying and said that it supports the University wholeheartedly in the just implementation of its Harassment and Bullying Policy.