Category: News

NGOs call on Malta to disembark stranded migrants in the face of EU’s ‘callous disregard for human life’

Malta should intervene and offer a safe port of disembarkation to migrants currently stranded on board NGO-operated rescue vessels, 23 NGOs said on Friday.

Some 350 migrants are currently waiting on board the Ocean Viking rescue vessel, which is operated by Doctors Without Borders and the NGO SOS Mediterranee, after having been rescued earlier in the week.

“As Malta swelters in the summer heat, over 350 men, women and children are out at sea, stranded aboard rescue vessels waiting to be allowed to land,” the NGOs said.  

They added that despite repeated requests to Italy and Malta for a safe port, to date neither member state has allowed disembarkation and none of the member states of the EU have stepped in to offer refuge to those on board.

“As days turn into weeks and EU member states continue to drag their feet, conditions on board the two ships worsen and people’s life and safety are compromised.”

The NGOs said that “in the face of this callous disregard for human life” they were urging Malta to “once again lead by example and to allow the people stranded on board the rescue vessels to disembark in Malta.

This should be done irrespective of whether Malta was legally responsible for their disembarkation in terms of international law.

SOS MEDITERRANEE@SOSMedIntl

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At 1pm on August 12, Antonin, @SOSMedIntl rescuer, was on bridge watch onboard the #OceanViking when he spotted a blurred shape on the horizon. It turned out it was a rubber boat about to deflate with 105 people on it.

On board now, 356 survivors waiting for a place of safety.

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453:56 PM – Aug 15, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy27 people are talking about this

They said it was unacceptable to argue that the migrants should be returned to Libya, where they risk imprisonment in inhuman conditions, torture, rape and slavery. “Libya cannot be considered a safe port by any definition, so it is imperative that another solution is found for the rescued migrants.”

“It is equally objectionable to imply that any state is somehow justified in refusing to allow the disembarkation of people rescued by NGOs. International maritime law is clear: the priority is to save lives and to ensure disembarkation in a place of safety, regardless of who conducted the rescue. Saving lives is therefore a legal obligation, and under no circumstances can it be considered wrong or – at worst – a crime,” the NGOs said.

member states, have a legal obligation to offer refuge to people fleeing persecution, the NGO said, adding that Europe closing its doors to such people was “beyond reprehensible”.

The Ocean Viking was situated to the north-west of Malta on Friday afternoon

The Ocean Viking was situated to the north-west of Malta on Friday afternoon

Finally, they added that it was clear that countries like Malta, Italy and Greece could not and should not be left to deal with this “European challenge” alone.

Furthermore, it is amply clear that the member states at the external borders of Europe, like Malta, Italy and Greece, cannot and should not be left to deal with this European challenge alone.

European Union institutions and member states, the NGOs said, need to take collective responsibility for the “tragedy unfolding on Europe’s doorstep” and to take concrete steps to ensure that, wherever they are disembarked, people are received in conditions of dignity.

The NGOs that signed the statement are:

aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Allied Rainbow Communities, Anti-Poverty Forum Malta, Caritas Malta, The Critical Institute, Drachma LGBTI, Drachma Parents Group, Integra Foundation, Isles of the Left, Jesuit Refugee Service, Kopin, LGBTI+ Gozo, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Maltese Association of Psychiatry, Men Against Violence, MGRM-Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, Moviment Graffitti, OASI Foundation, Office of the Dean – Faculty of Education University of Malta, People for Change Foundation, Richmond Foundation, SOS Malta, SPARK 15.   

Source: Malta Today

Gay men will have to go one year without sex to donate blood

Gay men will only be allowed to donate blood if they abstain from sex for at least one year prior – and authorities have yet to say when blood donations from gay donors will be allowed.  

Following reports that men who have sex with men (MSM) would be able to give blood by the end of summer, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry told Times of Malta “final preparations” were under way but did not specify a date by when the system is expected to be functioning. Similar announcements were made in August last year, this January and again in April.

The spokeswoman did not specify either whether the one-year deferral period would distinguish between MSM who have had multiple partners or those in monogamous relationships. They only said that the deferral period would be reviewed periodically.

“There are various factors to consider when deferral criteria for any situation are applied,” the spokeswoman said.

How do other countries handle donations from gay men?

Deferral periods for MSM vary from country to country. In Italy, Spain, Poland and Russia, among others, no deferral policies are in place. Instead, individual sexual risk evaluations are carried out, followed by testing.

In the UK and Canada, the deferral period is set at three months.

Denmark is expected to lift its ban on MSM blood donations and set the deferral period to three months. France will be cutting the deferral period from one year to four months.

Other countries, such as the USA, Finland and Sweden, have one-year deferral periods in place. 

What do LGBTIQ activists say?

LGBTIQ activists welcomed the news that gay men would be allowed to donate blood.

However, they said that continuous sexual health awareness was critical and that better resources should be allocated to the GU clinic to allow conscientious people to assume responsibility for their sexual health before considering donating blood.

A spokesman for the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) said that, given the effectiveness of modern testing equipment, the prohibition of MSM from blood donation had not been justified for some years.

“It is especially discriminatory to exclude those in a monogamous relationship, regardless of their sexuality, from being able to participate in the noble act of donating blood, potentially saving lives,” he commented.

Clayton Mercieca, community manager at Allied Rainbow Communities (Arc), said that while the rule change would allow MSM to donate blood, it did not represent and change in mindset and continued to feed into a stereotype about gay men that was resulting in ignorant and homophobic attitudes.

“We still are considered high risk, whether we engage in high-risk sexual activity or not,” Mr Mercieca told Times of Malta.

“It would be wiser to invest in more education and awareness about STIs and how they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation,” he said.

Both organisations shared their concerns about the situation at the GU clinic, which, they noted, was understaffed and where appointments for testing were being given with a waiting time of up to two months in some instances.

Source: Times of Malta

Transgender woman ‘punched in face’ at Msida bus stop

A transgender woman has claimed that she was punched in the face at an Msida bus stop in an apparent homophobic attack.

The woman, who was returning home from work, stopped on the Kulleġġ bus stop on the Msida waterfront at a pastizzeria on Sunday.

A man who frequents the shop often, the woman said, took issue with her presence and called her a homophobic slur.

She said that the man became violent when she answered back. He hit and punched her in the face and pulled out chunks of her hair.

“He raised his hand to me, he punched me in the face and ripped out my hair,” she said. 

“I tried to defend myself and that’s when people started to intervene.” 

The woman managed to snap a picture of her alleged attacker after the fact, which she posted onto social media.

A picture of the alleged aggressor taken by victim

A picture of the alleged aggressor taken by victim

Speaking to Times of Malta, the woman said that while LGBTIQ people enjoyed many rights on paper, the reality on the ground was that attacks such as this one happen with some frequency to several people in the community.

“The thing that hurts me the most is that transgender people who came out in the 80s and 90’s cannot move forward. They keep getting attacked and labelled with their past, they are ignored by society and it doesn’t get better for them.”

The woman said she would not be pursuing the matter with the police as she has been in trouble with the law in the past and going back to the courts would only be “punishing” herself.

“I’m trying my best and I’m not hurting anyone, just let me live,” she said.

A spokesman for the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) said that it is “unacceptable that in this day and age we still come across shameless acts of abuse in broad daylight, right in front of everybody.”

The woman’s identity is being withheld at her own request.

Source: Times of Malta

13 children’s organisations unite to speak with one voice

Thirteen organisations working with children have united under one umbrella network to serve as a united voice for children and to ensure their rights are enshrined in the law.

Called the Malta Children’s Associations Network (MaltaCAN), this new platform was inspired by Eurochild president Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and is being set up to promote, foster and support children’s rights and child participatory mechanisms in Malta.

“This is the first network of its kind in Malta and I believe it will open up new possibilities for the effective implementation of children’s rights at a local level. It will also consolidate the efforts of all these 13 organisations – and others who wish to join – to achieve meaningful child participation in all sectors of our society,” President Emeritus Coleiro Preca said.

The network is being facilitated by the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society as part of its fifth anniversary celebrations. It will be aligning its work to the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, and prioritising child participation through an integrative and collaborative approach.

The founding members include: the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, Assistance to Children in Care Association (ACICA), Birdlife Malta, Fondazzjoni Sebħ, Karl Vella Foundation, Church Schools Children’s Fund, Malta Dyslexia Association, Malta Girl Guides, MGRM, National Foster Care Association Malta (NFCAM), Right2Smile, Early Childhood Development Association Malta (ECDAM); Salesians of Don Bosco together with the Salesians Pastoral Youth Services.

Interested NGOs who would like to join MaltaCAN, are to get in touch with the network via e-mail on maltachildrensnetwork@gmail.com or contact MaltaCAN on Facebook.

Source: Times of Malta

A New Documentary About The Lives Of 5 Maltese Trans* People Is Premiering On Sette Giugno

Despite often being referred to as one of the world’s friendliest and safest countries, particularly in relation to the LGBT+ community, Malta still has a lot to learn about gender identity. There’s still a bit of a taboo and a level of stigma surrounding the trans community and the notion of gender fluidity.

One Maltese organisation is setting out to change this.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) is launching a new documentary about being a Trans individual in Malta

TRANSformazzjoni is a documentary that provides an insight into Trans peoples’ everyday lives in Malta. The documentary puts a spotlight on 5 Maltese Trans people from different walks of life giving full visibility to a wide range of people in the local Trans community, which all represent their own section of Maltese society that different people can relate to.

Directed by Olwyn Jo, known for her involvement in many local productions and music videos, TRANSformazzjoni will give viewers an insight into life as a member of the Trans community in Malta.

It follows the daily lives of Alex, Brenda, Lee, Reb and Roasrio; five local individuals of varying ages who identify as Trans*.

*The general definition of transgender is as follows; denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. However, an individual’s gender identity is best only explained by the individual themselves. This will be further explored in the documentary, too.

TRANSformazzjoni will also serve as an educational tool, featuring the recent laws and policies directed to enhancing the lives of Trans people in Malta

You can catch the premiere of TRANSformazzjoni on the 7th of June at 7pm at the University of Malta, Valletta Campus. To book a place at the premiere, email or message them on Facebook. And keep an eye out on their socials for more information on where to catch the documentary after the premiere.

Source: LovinMalta

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Sexual Harrassment, Physical Assaults And Homophobic Teachers

Firsthand Accounts Of Malta’s LGBT+ Students Show We’ve Still Got A Long Way To Go

40% of students said that teachers ‘never intervened’ when they were present for episodes of bullying

While Malta tops the ranks in terms of LGBTQ+ legislation, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of day-to-day acceptance of minority groups and marginalised communities in general.

In fact, the latest study by the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) which focused on understanding the experiences of LGBTQ+ persons between the ages of 13 and 22 who had been in an educational institution for the 2016-2017 scholastic year, has proven that we still have a long way to go before Malta can truly claim that it is fully queer-friendly.

The 2017 Malta National School Climate Survey Report have found some damning statistics about the way LGBTQ+ student are treated in school, and how they in turn feel about the education system they were, or still are being raised in.

1. Safety at School

A scary number of respondents said they’ve experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at school before.

Of the 139 students who participated in the study, half of them said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation

A further 41% felt unsafe due to their gender identity or the way they express their gender, with many respondents also saying they felt unsafe because of other uncontrollable characteristics, such as family income or disbaility among others.

Safety Pic

This lack of safety even causes students to miss lessons

With a number of students feeling uncomfortable and avoiding certain areas of the school such as locker rooms and hallways while over a quarter of them even skipped Physical Education (PE) Lessons completely.

Safety Pic 2

Over a third of the students (34%) felt so unsafe in their conditions that they missed at least one full day of school.

Quote 2

2. Harassment

In terms of homophobic language, 46.8% of students reported that they received derogatory comments such as pufta and linfa often or frequently. The study also found that 61.9% of these said that they received the insults from some or most students.

Many participants (33.1%) even said that some homophobic remarks came from teachers and members of staff

Pie Chart 1

For gender expression and identity, 49.3% and 40.3% of students received offensive and transphobic remarks often or frequently, respectively.

In brief, over half of respondents (59.4% and 55.5%) of participants reported being verbally harassed due to their sexual orientation and gender expression, while a further 36.1% experienced harassment based on their gender identity at least once in the previous scholastic year.

Quote 3
Pie Chart 2

Many respondents also said that they had been physically harassed because of their sexual and gender personality, with 22.6% for their sexual orientation, 21.7% for their gender expression and 14.9% for their gender identity.

Bar Chart 1

Unfortunately, some of the participants even reported being physically assaulted (punched, kicked, injured with a weapon)

8.6% of people said this occurred because of their sexual identity, 13% said it was because of their gender identity, and 8.8% said it was caused by their gender expression.

What makes these statistics even worse is that 40.4% of people said that teachers ‘never intervened’ when they were present for these types of bullying

Quote 5

3. The bullying unfortunately doesn’t stop there

Unfortunately, apart from the before mentioned harassment, many of the study’s participants also reported being victims of other forms of bullying, such as:

  • Being purposefully excluded (81.4%)
  • Had rumour spread about them (73.5%)
  • Cyberbullying (45%)
  • Broken or stolen property (30.9%)
  • Racist comments (54.7%)
  • Sexism (71.9%)

A terrifying 43.3% of LGBTQ+ students even reported being sexually harassed at school

Quote 4

On a slightly more positive note…

36.4% of respondents reported these forms of harassment and bullying to school staff, however only 11.7% did this ‘most of the time’.

At least, school staff apparently handled the situation ‘somewhat’ or ‘very effectively’ 32.1% of the time

Students also reportedly informed their parents or family members 36.4% of the time, but many of them (39.3%) never addressed it with any of the school staff.

Bar Chart 2

The only heartwarming fact highlighted in this study found that a whopping 95.6% of LGBTQ+ students said there was at least one supportive teacher or staff member at their school, and 62.2% said that they had six or more

Furthermore, 46.3% of people were accepting to the LGBTQ+ students, with some schools even reportedly having multiple students out of the closet.

Chart 1

Unfortunately, despite this, many schools still do not teach and inform young people about LGBTQ+ topics and history, which means that kids are often uninformed for certain important subjects such as sexual health

On the other hand, 40% of students say that sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity were brought up and discussed during talks about violence.

Quote 6

How can we change these statistics?

The study found that a more inclusive environment made the student body as a whole a lot more accepting of LGBTQ+ people.

It was also concluded that more supportive teachers who actually intervene during homophobic and transphobic conflicts, and a more informative curriculum also helped queer individuals to feel safer, and which may be the reason that they missed less days of school than those LGBTQ+ students who felt unsafe or unhappy in their situation at school.

Chart 2
Chart 3

What’s the next step we need to take to ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ youth?

The survey report ends with a section listing a number of possible and, frankly, quite simple fixes to the current system that can significantly impact the student climates found in schools.

Implementing national, LGBTQ+ inclusive bullying policies that prevent victimisation, providing transgender and gender variant students with equal access to non-discriminatory facilities (such as gender-neutral bathrooms), and ensuring that school policies such as dress codes do not discriminate against queer students, are just a few of the suggestions put forward by the MGRM.

Quote 7

The quotes in purple are taken directly from some of the participants of The 2017 Malta National School Climate Survey Report

Source: Lovin Malta

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Malta l-aqwa fid-dinja fil-ġlieda kontra l-omofobija u l-protezzjoni abbażi tal-orjentazzjoni sesswali

Malta kklassifikat l-aqwa fid-dinja fil-ġlieda kontra l-omofobija u l-protezzjoni abbażi tal-orjentazzjoni sesswali. Dan ikkonfermatu l-Assoċjazzjoni Internazzjonali tal-Persuni Leżbjani, Gay, Bisesswali, Trans u Intersex f’rapport ippubblikat fi New Zealand.

Ir-rapport juri kif Malta hi l-unika pajjiż li ssodisfa l-kriterji kollha tal-ILGA World li jinkludu l-protezzjoni Kostituzzjonali, il-protezzjoni fil-liġi tax-xogħol, il-protezzjoni kontra kull forma ta’ diskriminazzjoni u mibegħda, iż-żwieġ ugwali u l-unjoni ċivili.  Kriterji oħra jinkludu addozzjoni konġunta jew addozzjoni mit-tieni ġenitur, u l-projbizzjoni ta’ prattiċi ta’ konverżjoni jew ir-riklamar tagħhom.

B’reazzjoni għal dan ir-rapport, il-Ministru Helena Dalli qalet kif dan ir-riżultat li ħareġ minn rapport li sar minn organizzazzjoni li ilha mwaqqfa għal erbgħin sena fejn spjegat kif għandna nkunu sodisfatti ferm b’din il-kisba.

“Hija xi ħaġa tajba u importanti li Malta tinsab l-ewwel fid-dinja fejn tidħol l-ugwaljanza. Qabel konna l-ewwel fl-ewropa issa ġejna l-ewwel fid-dinja. Meta tara l-pajjiżi li hemm warajna pereżempju l-aktar viċin tagħna huwa l-kanada. Huwa pajjiż avvanzat fejn tidħol ugwaljanza però għad ma jissodfiswawx il-kriterji kollha li trid tissodisfa skont dan ir-rapport biex ikollok ugwaljanza totali. Ovvjament aħna nieħdu gost għax in-nies qed igawdu mix-xogħol li għamilna f’leġislazzjoni f’dan il-qasam, issa qed jgħixu ħajja aħjar,” qalet il-Ministru Dalli.

Dan kien possibbli wara li l-Gvern implimenta numru ta’ riformi leġiżlattivi li poġġew lil Malta fil-quċċata Ewropea f’dan il-qasam.

Din l-aħbar issegwi dik li ħarġet ftit tal-jiem ilu meta pajjiżna għall-ewwel darba għamilha mal-aqwa għaxar destinazzjonijiet turistiċi għall-persuni LGBTIQ.

Source: one.com.mt

LGBT Christian group tells gay people not to try to ‘heal’ sexual orientation

The LGBT Christian Group Drachma this morning published an open letter addressed individually to gay persons, telling them that any attempt to “heal yourself” from “your sexual orientation” will cause “irreparable harm”.

“Do not try to suppress it,” the group writes. “Do not marry to hide it. You would be doing harm to the one you marry too. Do not try to change your orientation just because one section of society does not accept you. It is society that needs to change; it is society that needs healing.”

The full letter is below

Dear gay person,

Congratulations for being a perfectly normal human person. You are not sick or mentally disordered. You are not bad. It is not your or your parent’s fault that you are gay. It’s nobody’s mistake. Indeed, there is no fault or mistake involved at all. The Bible does not condemn you. Of course not. How could it condemn you, when it says that you were wonderfully made, and created in God’s own image?

How can the Bible condemn you, when you are God’s beloved son or daughter? Instead, feel bound by the Bible’s core moral teachings:

be loving and kind, be forgiving and merciful, be honest and be just.

Work for harmony and peace. Stand up for truth. To do that is to follow the Bible.

To do that is to follow God’s way. To do that is to love God with all your heart and soul. To do that is to be a true disciple of Jesus. Please do not try to change your sexual orientation. Do not try to ‘heal’ what is not an illness.

The truth is that you can’t, anyway, even if someone someday were to pronounce you ‘healed’.

You are different. Of course, you are different:

some of us are left-handed,
others are right-handed;
some are tall, some are thin;
some of us have pink skin, others are light brown or dark brown.

It is in accepting who you really are that will help you grow as a person. You may need help from a qualified person to do this (but before you consult any, do make sure that they are indeed qualified).

If you try to ‘heal’ yourself of your sexual orientation, you will be doing yourself irreparable harm.

Do not try to suppress it.
Do not marry to hide it.
You would be doing harm to the one you marry too.

Do not try to change your orientation just because one section of society does not accept you.

It is society that needs to change; it is society that needs healing. One day, you may meet someone with whom you can build a long-lasting relationship, a relationship that is special, intimate, beyond friendship, a loving, fruitful relationship in which you can help each other to flourish.

Of course, you are free to lead a chaste and celibate life. That will be your decision, but that does not mean you are no longer gay.

Even some straight people do that,but that doesn’t mean they are no longer straight either.

Whatever your decision, please count us always as your friends.

Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group

Source: independent.com.mt


UK patient ‘free’ of HIV after stem cell treatment

A UK patient’s HIV has become “undetectable” following a stem cell transplant – in only the second case of its kind, doctors report in Nature.

The London patient, who was being treated for cancer, has now been in remission from HIV for 18 months and is no longer taking HIV drugs.

The researchers say it is too early to say the patient is “cured” of HIV.

Experts say the approach is not practical for treating most people with HIV but may one day help find a cure.

The male London patient, who has not been named, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012.

He had chemotherapy to treat the Hodgkin’s cancer and, in addition, stem cells were implanted into the patient from a donor resistant to HIV, leading to both his cancer and HIV going into remission.

Researchers from University College London, Imperial College London, Cambridge and Oxford Universities were all involved in the case.

‘Not an anomaly’

This is the second time a patient treated this way has ended up in remission from HIV.

Ten years ago, another patient in Berlin received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with natural immunity to the virus.

Timothy Brown, said to be the first person to “beat” HIV/Aids, was given two transplants and total body irradiation (radiotherapy) for leukaemia – a much more aggressive treatment.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” said lead study author Prof Ravindra Gupta, from UCL.


Hope of a cure?

By BBC Online Health Editor, Michelle Roberts

Although the finding is exciting, it is not offering up a new treatment for the millions of people around the world living with HIV.

The aggressive therapy was primarily used to treat the patient’s cancer, not his HIV.

Current HIV therapies are really effective, meaning people with the virus can live long and healthy lives.

But the reason this case is so significant is that it could help experts who are looking for new ways to tackle HIV and achieve a cure.

Understanding how the body can naturally resist the infection does offer up hope of this, even if it is still a long way off.


Prof Eduardo Olavarria, also involved in the research, from Imperial College London, said the success of stem cell transplantation offered hope that new strategies could be developed to tackle the virus.

But he added: “The treatment is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, which in this case was required to treat the lymphoma.”

How does it work?

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1 – the virus strain of HIV that dominates around the world – to enter cells.

But a very small number of people who are resistant to HIV have two mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor.

This means the virus cannot penetrate cells in the body that it normally infects.

The London patient received stem cells from a donor with this specific genetic mutation, which made him resistant to HIV as well.

But a reservoir of cells carrying HIV can still remain in the body, in a resting state, for many years.

The UK researchers say it may be possible to use gene therapy to target the CCR5 receptor in people with HIV, now they know the Berlin patient’s recovery was not a one-off.

Prof Graham Cooke, National Institute for Health Research research professor and reader in infectious diseases from Imperial College London, said the results were “encouraging”.

“If we can understand better why the procedure works in some patients and not others, we will be closer to our ultimate goal of curing HIV.

“At the moment the procedure still carries too much risk to be used in patients who are otherwise well.”

‘Potentially significant’

Dr Andrew Freedman, reader in infectious diseases and honorary consultant physician at Cardiff University, said it was an “interesting and potentially significant report”.

But he said much longer follow-up would be needed to ensure the virus did not re-emerge at a later stage.

“While this type of treatment is clearly not practical to treat the millions of people around the world living with HIV, reports such as these may help in the ultimate development of a cure for HIV.”

In the meantime, he said the focus needed to be on diagnosing HIV promptly and starting patients on lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy (cART).

This can prevent the virus being transmitted to others and give people with HIV a near-normal life expectancy.

Source: bbc.com

WATCH: It Cannot Be Bad To Be Gay, Says Priest On Xarabank: ‘Where There Is Love And Sincerity, There Is God’

‘Love your children. Always, no matter who they are’

A progressive priest by the name of Fr Kevin was interviewed on Xarabank, where he stressed that it cannot be a bad thing to be gay, because God created all mankind… with all variations included.

“It can’t be bad to be gay because God created it in his plan for mankind, with all our variations. When a person knows at the bottom of their heart that they are gay, they are recognizing the way God created them, and are accepting themselves”.

Fr Kevin works as a Theology lecturer at the University of Malta and also sits on the Church tribunal.

The Xarabank team, when uploading clips of the interview to their social media site, conceded that they had actually asked Archbishop Charles Scicluna to speak on the show. He instead sent Fr Kevin, insisting that the public would want to hear what he has to say.

Last week, the popular current affairs programme interviewed two River of Love members, a religious group promoting Christian values, including aggressively promoting heterosexual values.

One of the members, Matthew Grech, made waves and angered many after, on X Factor Malta, he spoke of how he used to be a homosexual but after much effort is now a straight man. He continues to promote efforts to convert people back to heterosexualism.

Asked to speak on the issue and react to the two member’s statements that they are no longer gay, Fr Kevin said that if a gay Catholic person is being true to themselves, they should not change and will hurt themselves by failing to accept who they are.

Fr Kevin highlighted the troubling views of internalized homophobia.

“People who do not accept themselves, or maybe parents who do not accept their homosexual children, this can create internalized anger towards themselves.”

Fr Kevin spoke of his brother, who is homosexual. Xarabank presenter Peppi Azzopardi asked whether he ever tried to dissuade his brother from being gay. Fr Kevin said that in reality, he was changed for the better by his brother and the people he came into contact with through his brother.

The refreshingly progressive priest spoke of young people asking him to join them in coming out to their families. He described a moment which touched him where a young person, who was frightened of admitting to the priest he was gay. After being gently prompted to open up, the young man wrote down that he was gay on a small piece of paper, and upon seeing Fr Kevin’s acceptance he burst into tears with relief.

Asked whether the priest had any final message to the public, he said:

“Love your children. Always, no matter who they are. Accept yourselves, be sincere and share your stories. On the Church, the Church should not be seen as a rigid institution but as though it is population of people always changing and always exploring”.

Source: Lovinmalta.com