Published on February 5th, 2013 | by Ivan Martin0
“Some LGBTQQI people may feel that the government doesn’t represent them”- We Are
General elections aren’t etched into our national memory for their terrible campaign songs and viral bloopers alone, but rather, for what former President Censu Tabone once called “the great strides we make towards a just society”. Ivan Martin met with We Are President Luisa Tolu and Treasurer Paul Caruana Turner, to discuss their views on 2013′s ‘queer election’ and the ‘strides’ we are and aren’t taking.
“We Are isn’t just an LGBT rights group. We’re about helping people find themselves. We’re not setting out to champion gay rights, we just want to offer support,” said and enthusiastic Luisa Tolu. Founded in 2010, We Are is focused on fostering an inclusive campus however its operations stretch beyond university life, “We’re about being comfortable with your self” said Treasurer Paul Caruana Turner.
A MaltaToday study (2006) showed 18% of Maltese to be in favour of gay marriage. By 2012, the number had risen to 41%. What does this say about Maltese society and current policies?
Ms Tolu discussed the changing local population “It’s a demographic shift that dramatically changed those figures.” she said. Adding that in 2006 she wouldn’t have been asked what she thought about the situation as she was still a teenager.
Ms Tolu pointed out that Political parties have realized that a spectrum of orientations has become more and more accepted across the local community. “Most of the proposed policy changes are top down EU mandates” said Mr Caruana Turner, “Parties are sandwiched between a mature population and EU policy changes” he added.
Ms Tolu described the dilemma facing individuals who struggle to reconcile non-representative policies with the world they live in today.
Ms Tolu went on to discuss the wider application of gay rights, insisting “It goes deeper than policy change, it’s time to adopt acceptance!”
“Some LGBTQQI people may feel that the government doesn’t represent them” said Ms Tolu, insisting that many people may view marriage as a bourgeois institution, so it’s not simply a matter of allowing gay marriage but full gay rights across the board.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) is lobbying political parties to address several key issues related to gay rights and equality. What is your opinion of the current quality of life for Maltese LGBT individuals?
“The situation has changed for the better but that doesn’t go to say that there isn’t a long way to go,” Mr Caruana Turner said.
Ms Tulo discussed how MGRM’s proposal for anti-discrimination laws on the provision of goods and services to include discrimination based on sexual orientation illustrates the situation. “The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) views the provision of goods and services to be a fundamental issue. The fact that we’re still fighting for it here is unacceptable” Ms Tolu insisted.
Ms Tolu illustrated this further by discussing hotels offering weekend breaks and other offers who often turn away LGBT couples for not being ‘real couples’. Ms Tolu went on to describe her disbelief at the complaints levelled at the local Identity Card Office for their refusal to accept applications by LBGT individuals to alter information on identity cards.
We Are President Ms Tolu discussed the situation on campus, highlighting the common occurrence of students hovering around We Are Stands and activities but often being reluctant to join in. ” the biggest fear is rejection” said Mr Caruana Turner.
to combat this We Are introduced the We Are phone line, an initiative to ensure that any one can get a hold of We Are at any time. ” We take turns carrying the phone… we’re here to talk and offer support.” added Mr Caruana Turner.
We Are phoneline: 99815240