Health minister plays down suggestion of increased HIV incidence with gay tourism drive

Health minister Chris Fearne was asked on TVM’s Dissett whether a government campaign for LGBTIQ+ tourism would disrupt its own sexual health action plan

Malta’s legislative steps forward on gay rights are now being used to promote LGBTIQ+ tourism
Malta’s legislative steps forward on gay rights are now being used to promote LGBTIQ+ tourism

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has shot down concerns by TVM editor Reno Bugeja, that a push for gay tourism to Malta could actually spark an increase in sexually related diseases.

The question itself proved to be controversial on social media, although Bugeja said in his preamble to the question that concerns of HIV incidence with same-sex relations have been a fairly discussed medical issue.

In his question, Bugeja asked whether a proposal from the tourism minister Konrad Mizzi – a fourth district ‘rival’ to Fearne – to promote a LGBTIQ+ tourism drive to Malta could also increase HIV cases.

Fearne was explaining a 10-year plan to improve sexual health, before Bugeja suggested that a tourism drive to attract the pink pound could prove ‘disruptive’.

Fearne acknowledged that AIDS and HIV cases have a higher probability of being contracted by men who have sex with other men, but insisted that sexually transmitted diseases are a product of unprotected sex. 

“We are gravely mistaken if we think that AIDS and HIV are problems of homosexual people only,” the minister said.  “We will tackle these type of diseases as we tackle others,” he continued. 

Indeed, Fearne gave short shrift to Bugeja’s question, commenting that it was a homophobic suggestion, while the editor diverted from the subject by saying he disagreed with the concept of niche tourism. Fearne was quick to ask him why he agreed with conference tourism but not LGBTIQ+ tourism, to which Buegja changed subject and forged ahead with the rest of the interview.