People have gathered outside the Sapphire Suite in Żebbuġ to protest against the controversial practice of gay conversions this evening, with the necessary permission by the police.
Plans to organise a protest earlier this month were foiled when the police informed the would-be protesters that they would be arrested if they showed up, since they did not obtain police approval. The Malta Gay Rights Movement subsequently planned a protest today, obtaining all the necessary paperwork to do so.
The protest is being held outside a venue used by the River of Love Fellowship, an evangelical Christian organisation led by Pastor Gordon John Manche. The organisation had announced that it would host 3 “formerly-gay” youths who would be giving “their personal testimonies of how their life has been turned around by the love and power of Jesus Christ. From a life of homosexuality to a life of freedom from that lifestyle.”
The claim incensed many, prompting the protest plans. Mr Manche admitted to the press that he sought the police himself, claiming fears that it would turn nasty.
These fears did not materialise at the protest, with a few dozen people peacefully protesting outside the premises, carrying placards and banners, while 3 police officers looked on.
In announcing the protest, the MGRM stressed that “there is absolutely nothing wrong with being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and absolutely nothing that needs to be changed or improved. Such fairytale beliefs are making many people’s lives miserable, and MGRM believes it needs to make its voice heard in this respect.”
It added that the protest aimed to send a message that one’s sexual orientation was to be celebrated, not repressed.
The Evangelical Alliance of Malta (TEAM), which River of Love forms part of, said it backed freedom of expression, but described the protest as non-essential and defended the conversion of people’s sexual orientation, in its reaction to the protest plans.