All posts by mgrm_malta

Psychologists’ body takes on X Factor’s ‘ex gay’ singer: ‘no such thing as homosexual disorder’

“Homosexuality is not a pathology, mental anomaly nor psychological disorder” – Malta Chamber of Psychologists says after “ex gay” campaigner Matthew Grech releases interview

Malta’s Chamber of Psychologists (MCP) has issued a statement in the wake of an interview with the “ex gay” campaigner Matthew Grech, who starred in X Factor Malta and denounced homosexuality as being “incompatible” with Christianity

“Homosexuality is not a pathology, mental anomaly nor psychological disorder. In line with our sister association in America (APA) we appeal to all to support us in the removal of the stigma of mental illness which shrouds people of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations,” the MCP said. 

In a debate with Gabi Calleja, who today heads the Equality Ministry’s human rights and integration directorate, Grech insisted that the idea of a fixed sexual orientation had been questioned by the APA in 2014, and suggested that the association had said that homosexuality is a psychological disorder.

READ MORE • X Factor singer releases film taking on ‘must-stay-gay culture’ in Malta

“In a democratic country, I have every right to believe and proclaim that homosexuality is a psychological disorder. Therefore, the country is refusing to provide psychological help to those who believe this; to those who want, and have every right, to seek it. It is a denial of basic human rights,” Grech – who says he was converted over from homosexuality after becoming Christian – said. 

But the Chamber of Psychologists reiterated that the notion of gay conversion, as a therapy or simply even as a concept, was harmful and noxious to persons from the LGBTIQ community. 

“It not only rejects a group of individuals based on unfounded promises, but also promotes a lack of tolerance to diversity within our community. In fact, being gay is not something which deems the need for a cure or transformation, and the very implication of such is a form of homophobia,” the MPC said. 

“As a body we promote respect and equality for all persons and we strongly condemn any practices, public outcries or vociferous attacks on any minority group or section of our population. The discipline of psychology is concerned with the health and well-being of humans and groups, and we consider such behaviours to be a direct threat to public well-being. 

“MCP also promotes the importance of learning to know, accept, love and respect oneself for who we are; a practice which leads to our psychological maturation and integrated sense of self. Denying our true nature may in itself lead to psychological difficulties, and denying our sexual orientation – if it so happens not to be hetero-normative – is in fact known as internalised homophobia.” 

Grech, a member of the evangelical community led by Gordon-John Manché, declared that it was not possible for a Christian to be gay, as they would have forsaken the word of God. When asked whether Archbishop Charles Scicluna was wrong to celebrate mass to gay Catholic society Drachma, Grech said that “would be going against the word of God”. 

Source: maltatoday.com

Partner of Serbia’s gay PM gives birth to baby boy

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s partner gave a birth to a baby boy Wednesday, her office said, heralding it as a historic event although the conservative country does not legally recognise same-sex marriages or partnerships.

“Ana Brnabic is one of the first Prime Ministers whose partner has given birth while in office… and the first in the world in a same-sex couple,” her media office said in a statement.

“The delivery went well and both the mother and baby are doing fine,” it added.

According to local media, the boy was named Igor.

Brnabic, 43, became one of the few openly gay government leaders in the world when she came to power in June 2017.

But she has not been a vocal advocate on LGBT issues in a country where homophobia is widespread.

In February alone there have been at least two acts of vandalism at an LGBT centre in central Belgrade.

During an appearance at a Pride parade in Belgrade in 2017, Brnabic declined to comment on whether she would like to see same-sex marriage legalised in her country.

“I can’t give you my personal opinion right now because I’m here as the prime minister representing the Serbian government,” she said at the time.

Although the country has various legal acts addressing gender identity and anti-gay discrimination, rights activists say that implementation is poor.

A campaign for the adoption of a law on same-sex partnerships, for which activists hope to win the premier’s support, has not yet been successful.

Source: timesofmalta

Transgender Healthcare: Leaving nobody behind

The mantra associated with the Sustainable Development Goals is that of leaving nobody behind. In taking bold steps to develop health care services for transgender persons, we are effectively giving testimony to the fact that, for this Government, leaving nobody behind is not merely a slogan but is something we work to achieve assiduously every day.

Transgender inclusive health care can profoundly increase the quality of life for transgender persons. This service may only have an impact on a few hundred persons and their families but, for us, every single individual and their needs is of paramount importance.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of witnessing first-hand the clinic for gender well-being delivering services to transgender persons. This service is the result of months of hard work by a multi-disciplinary team of health and social care professionals who took up the challenge of planning clinical services for transgender persons. The development of these services is being implemented as laid out in the transgender health care policy document.

The document was launched for consultation in April last year and in-depth discussions were held with transgender persons and civil society organisations representing them. We also liaised with the LGBTIQ Council and the Malta Gay Rights Movement. I believe that the manner in which we worked to formulate this policy is an excellent example of the way in which health systems will continue to be shaped in the 21st century.

In the design and development of services for transgender persons, health professionals embarked on a process of co-creation. This means that while scientific evidence remains the backbone of clinical services, planners and health system policy-makers are increasingly acknowledging that service users are experts in their own right and have a clear contribution to make in service design. I am grateful to the professionals and the service user representatives who worked closely to develop clinical pathways that will primarily ensure the safety and effectiveness of the interventions provided but will also respect the dignity and legitimate expectations of service users.

At the start of the year we changed the legislation on entitlement to medication by including gender identity and sex  characteristics-related conditions in the list of conditions for free treatment. As a consequence, transgender persons who have had to pay for their treatment for years are now able to obtain treatment free of charge through the gender clinic.

However, transgender persons do not merely require medication or surgical interventions. Indeed, the social, psychological and emotional support provided to transgender persons as they embark on the difficult gender transitioning journey are equally important to ensure success. In fact, persons may be referred to access services  by doctors, psychologists or social workers, since some persons will opt only for psycho-social support and intervention whilst others will opt to undergo surgical interventions to align their physical characteristics with their gender identity.

In developing these services, we have drawn on the experience and assistance of other countries, tailoring the programme to fit our contextual realities and our legal framework. There is still, however, much that remains to be achieved. In the coming months we aim to continue providing training for our multi-disciplinary team, as well as more generic awareness training throughout our health service. We will also start offering surgical interventions where these are required. We aim to eventually have a service that will be considered a model for other countries to follow.

None of this would have been achieved had we not put in place the necessary legal framework that makes it possible to change legal gender. We sought to transform civil liberties in this country and we did. Our track record speaks for itself.

Mr Fearne is the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Health

Source: independent.com.mt

30 persons have used transgender clinic since its opening two months ago

The clinic is served by a number of medical professionals and offers counselling, hormone therapy and surgery advice

Thirty persons are making use of a transgender clinic, staffed by a multi-disciplinary team, since its opening in November.

The clinic, located in Mtarfa, offers services including counselling, hormone therapy and advice on surgery to people who identify as trans.

Health Minister Chris Fearne said the clinic was opened with the aim of catering for the unique medical needs which such persons might have and which were previously not being addressed by the public health system.

“Professionals such as endocrinologists, social workers, surgeons, family therapists, nurses, and a speech and language pathologist are available at the clinic to give their advice and services to those who need it,” Fearne highlighted.

Anyone entitled to use the public health system in Malta is also offered the necessary free medicine on the Government Formulary List at the clinic.

The clinic was opened on 14 November after the government conducted a public consultation on the needs of trans persons in April to June last year.

A final document on transgender medical care, covering areas such as a strategy for the development or related health services, and gender-affirming healthcare, has also been issued.

Source: maltatoday.com.mt

LGBTIQ Youth Activism- The Past & The Present

In summer 2017, the idea of a short narrative of the experiences of a number of activists from the LGBTIQ community came about due to a common desire to explore the history of LGBTIQ activism and the importance of activism within the community itself and society at large.

Nine interviews were conducted with the people who were pioneers of LGBTIQ activism; those who started the fight for LGBTIQ rights. This was important to get to know their stories and perspectives in relation to activism.

Twelve interviews with the younger generation of activists, those who will determine the future of the LGBTIQ movement were carried out also. The book describes the rewards of activism as well as the challenges one might encounter along this journey. 

The purpose of this project was to inspire the young and not so young to engage in activism and to stand for what is right no matter what, as the activists recall their beginnings, with the hope that the publication serves as a point of reference in the setting up of other youth lead organisations and encourages young people to get involved. 

The publication was possible thanks to the funding and support of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ’s ‘Be Active scheme’ which enables the engagement and participation of young people as well as organisations. 

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New “safe space” for LGBTIQ families to share experiences

New initiative launched by President’s foundation

Most parents would step in if they heard one of their children call the other “gay” during an argument, but for Neil Falzon, himself gay, the point took on an added importance.

“I asked him if he knew what ‘gay’ meant, and he said he didn’t but he’d heard it at school,” Dr Falzon, who recently adopted two children with his husband, said at the launch of a new initiative for LGBTIQ families by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.

“I slowly explained it to him, and explained that it wasn’t a bad word but that some people used it like that, and then I asked him if he knew anyone who was gay. He thought for a bit and then said that he didn’t. So I explained to him slowly that papà and papà were in fact gay.

“That was the first time I really realised that there was a need for certain discussions about the identity of the family and also about the conversations and social relations children are going to have at school.”

Dr Falzon, also the director of the Aditus Foundation, was speaking at San Anton Palace at the launch of a “safe space” where LGBTIQ families can share their experiences in a secure environment without fear of judgement or prejudice.

The project, Rainbow Families, has been set up by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) to coincide with next month’s Pride Week.

Read more: Video launched to help overcoming prejudice towards LGBTIQ families

Monthly meetings will be held where families can learn from each other’s joys and the difficulties they encounter. The project will also provide participants with the opportunity to engage in debates and discussions facilitated by professionals.

President’s Foundation director Ruth Farrugia said that through its work with LGBTIQ families in recent years, the foundation had realised the need for a space for families, and especially children, to share experiences with others similar to theirs. 

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca highlighted the importance of the initiative in helping to eradicate the stigma that still exists around LGBTIQ families in Malta and foster understanding and common ground between families of different make-ups.

MGRM coordinator Colette Farrugia Bennett and Alex Caruana, an MGRM member who identifies as transgender, also spoke of the need to reduce isolation for children who are gender non-conforming, as well as for their parents.

The first Rainbow Families meeting will take place on September 13 at 6pm at San Anton Palace. To register, send an e-mail to pfws.opr@gov.mt or call on 21484462.

Source: timesofmalta.com

Vuċi għall-qraba ta’ persuni LGBTIQ

Jiem qabel ma pajjiżna jinxtegħel bil-kuluri tal-qawsalla għall-ġimgħa magħrufa bħala l-Pride Week, il-Fondazzjoni tal-President għall-Ġid tas-Soċjetà nediet proġett bl-isem ta’ Rainbow Families Network.

Proġett li fiċ-ċentru tiegħu hemm il-qraba ta’ persuni LGBTIQ, li se jkunu qed jiltaqgħu fi spazju sikur fil-ġnien privat tal-Palazz ta’ San Anton.Hemmhekk, għadd ta’ professjonisti se jmexxu sessjonijiet interattivi għal dawn il-familji – li anki jekk pajjiżna huwa minn ta’ quddiem fid-dinja fil-qasam tal-inklużjoni u drittijiet indaqs, xorta għadhom qed jaffaċċjaw numru ta’ sfidi soċjali – bħal bullyingstigma, diskriminazzjoni u esklużjoni.

Il-President ta’ Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca qalet li dan il-proġett mhux biss se jkun ta’ benefiċċju għall-familji ta’ persuni LGBTIQ għax jingħataw kuraġġ jaffaċċjaw il-ħajja, iżda se jkun ta’ esperjenza pożittiva wkoll għall-professjonisti.

Source: one.com.mt

LGBTIQ families may discuss and receive professional advice at President’s Palace

The garden of the President’s Palace at San Anton will become the venue for meetings of the Rainbow Families Network, established through the initiative of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. The network will bring together LGBTIQ families in a secure environment to discuss, among others, their challenges and to receive professional advice. During the network’s launching, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca stressed on the need for a mentality change so that Malta’s achievements in this sector will reach their fullness.

Same-sex couples who are upbringing children and families with LGBTIQ children will be able to exchange their experiences in a secure environment….away from prejudices which at times they have to face.

The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and the LGBTIQ movement launched the Rainbow Families Network. The MGRM coordinator, Colette Farrugia Bennett, said that the project started after a number of LGBTIQ families confined with the movement that, on many occasions, they find it difficult to speak about their lives in an insecure environment.

“There are families out there who are living a very normal life by themselves; maybe they are not in contact with other families who have similar characteristics and believe that once they meet, they can learn more on how one can lead better certain similar challenges”, Colette Farrugia Bennett said.

The network will not only bring these families together, but they will also meet with professionals who assist them to address their challenges due to the sexual orientation of any member or members of their family.

Ms Farrugia Bennett added, “As a social worker I work a lot with families with trans children and youths, and I realize their feeling of loneliness. When I gathered together families, due to consultation or a personal request, I saw the result of parents speaking to other parents”.

Alex Caruana, a trans person, said he believes that Rainbow Families Network will be of assistance to trans youths who many times feel lost and alone, while their parents are provided with more information about their children’s body and their wish to change sex.

LGBTIQ Neil Falzon, parent of two children aged 11 and 8, spoke on the difference in values such as equality and the respect children receive in families.

President Coleiro Preca said that a change in society’s mentality is needed to ensure that laws, which placed the country in the forefront in the inclusion sector, are implemented. The President added that this network may be opened for other families in the future.

Source: tvm.com.mt

Malta remains role model in EU for LGBT inclusivity

Malta has been a top-scorer in some of this year’s results in LGBT rights studies.

The island – often described as ‘gay-friendly’ – has always been seen to strive towards greater inclusivity for all ages, races and genders, through multiple forms of legislation that work towards furthering rights for the LGBT community.

Since Malta passed the Bill for same-sex marriage in 2017, the country has then gone on to make further progress.

Because of this, the island had another inspiring statistic to add to its ever-growing collection, which was released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in May.

It found that Malta scored over 91 per cent in the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe LGBTIQ Index, which places it at the top spot out of 49 countries, for a third consecutive year.

Malta was rated 100 per cent in categories such as Civil Society Space, Legal Gender Recognition and Bodily Integrity and Hate Crime and Hate Speech.

For the Equality & Non-Discrimination and Family categories, it received very positive results of 90 per cent and 89 per cent.

The island’s widespread accolades come from the public’s increased embracement of the gay community.  

A poll conducted in 2016 showed that 65 per cent of Maltese people were in favour of same-sex marriage, a huge rise from 18 per cent in similar findings back in 2006.

Many believe, however, that the awareness and inclusion of the LGBT community and those within such community, should begin at an early age.

Maltese schools are required to meet the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act legislation launched in June 2015 by the Maltese government, which is a comprehensive education policy focused on the needs of trans, gender variant and intersex children.

Malta was rated 100 per cent in categories such as Civil Society Space

In a recent report from the LGBTIQ Inclusive Education Report, it said that “all young people have the right to education, but research shows that this is still far from being a reality for many LGBTIQ learners. We firmly believe that the LGBTIQ Education Index and Report can play a vital role in changing this.”

However, Malta seems to be a country that is making great changes to this idea, with it receiving perfect scores in nine out of 10 categories that the report analysed.

The categories included: anti-discrimination law applicable to education, inclusive national curricula, partnerships between governments and civil society, support systems, right to choose gender and teacher training on LGBTIQ awareness. While the Maltese education system is facilitating LGBTIQ curricula and policies, some countries are still far behind such progressions.

The report showed that some countries such as Armenia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland received scores of zero out of 10, have no regulation or policies to tackle bullying and harassment and promote inclusivity.

There was even a case in Azerbaijan where a psychologist hit a child in front of the parents, because of their toy preferences and the report says that incidents such as this “shows clearly the oppositional position of Azerbaijani government regarding LGBT rights”.

Source: independent.com.mt