Category: News

Call for designer – VOPS 2021

About the project

This year will represent the 20th anniversary of MGRM. We would like to mark this significant event with a commemorative, informative and cultural initiative which pays tribute to the work of our volunteers, to the power of voluntary organisations, to their ability to change societies and make them more inclusive as well as provide a cultural event, accompanied with a pictorial history of MGRM and the Maltese LGBTIQ community, which will contribute to the cultural events of 2021 in Malta. The project will center on the publication of this pictorial guide as well as an exhibition incorporating that history and within that exhibition, a special exhibition displaying the clothes of a pioneer of Trans rights in Malta, Katya.

Timeline

Call Application Deadline

2nd August 

Contracting of selected service provider

3rd August

First Draft of Exhibition Artworks

10th August

Final Draft of Exhibition Artworks

17th August

First Draft of Pictorial Book

30th September

Final Draft of Pictorial Book

14th October

Terms of Reference

A logo for the exhibition is ready, hence brand direction must build on that. The artwork requested are below with design specifications required. Printing is not to be included in quote.

Exhibition

The exhibition itself will be split into six sections, each colour coded according to the Pride Flag. Each section will have a board with some information about that section and captions for all the images. The section focusing Katya, will also have 4 designed quotes about her. The images within the exhibition will be captioned by a number. Below are the design requirements:

  • 6 x A2 informational board
  • 1 x 60x20cm informational board
  • 1 x A1 descriptive poster (logos will be provided)
  • 4 x text quotes A3
  • 6 x colour coded sets of numbers (for captioning photos)
  • 6 x colour strips (stickers to be placed on walls alongside exhibition content)

The exhibition will also require the following designs:

  • 1 x A3 event poster design
  • 1 x A3 size map (folded to an information booklet)
  • x4 Facebook posts

Pictorial Book

  • Design of cover and 160 page book
  • Facebook post & event cover photo

Following selection, before proceeding with designing all artworks, contractor is expected to show a concept (one poster for the exhibition, and a few pages of the book for example)

Eligibility Criteria

Bidders must submit a CV and portfolio with relevant experience within the design industry.

Selection Criteria

Quality of portfolio presented;

Knowledge of LGBTIQ issues and LGBTIQ affirmative approach;

Technical and Financial Bid;

Subcontracting

Individuals may propose working jointly with one or more persons given the tight deadlines envisaged. This must be clearly stated in their submission. Bidders are to attach CV’s of each expert.

Following the adjudication, any subcontracting to third parties other than the selected service provider/s needs to be approved in writing by MGRM.

Bids are to be sent to MGRM on mgrm@maltagayrights.org. For any queries please contact Robert Attard on +356 99255559. Deadline for quotes is 5pm of 2nd August 2021.

Trans People in Sport

Trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has met the strict eligibility standards set by the International Olympic Committee and the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and was selected to compete at the upcoming Olympics. This created an international debate on whether trans people, particularly women, hold an unfair advantage. Science shows that this advantage does not exist. We will try to explain why.

A familiar topic

What we are seeing around us mirrors what happened decades ago. Rooted in racism, everyone was fed the belief that white people were intellectually superior, and black people (with all the different ethnicities that fall under it) had an athletic advantage. A self fulfilling prophecy that was created not because black people in general had a genetic advantage, but brought about due to the limited opportunities that such communities had. Throughout the years, even up to this day, people have justified the success of black people in certain sports disciplines by saying that they have a biological advantage. The socioeconomic situation that led to that success is ignored. And as happened in the past, nowadays we see that any success enjoyed by a trans woman athlete is attributed solely to their supposed genetic advantage.

In the meantime, the International Olympic Committee set its first guidelines for trans athletes back in 2003. Between 2003 and now, there were minor changes, the last being in 2015. It took eighteen years for a trans athlete to both meet the criteria and qualify. This is an indication that the argument might be much smaller than it seems.

DNA and XX/XY chromosomes

All these things determine the sex that you’re born as, but they don’t really do much else. They have no effect on our everyday life, because biological processes are mostly determined by the endocrine (and nervous) system. And these hormones released by the endocrine glands can generally be ‘controlled’.

Sex hormones

Referring to a trans woman’s body as a male body is incorrect. Uninformed people vastly underestimate how significant these hormones are. Biologically, a trans woman’s body (who undergoes medical transition) functions as a female body. In trans women, if testosterone is properly suppressed, attributes that are generally associated with male strength are very quickly lost, and other things like fat percentage increase in line with female values. Within a few months, bodybuilders can look like they barely ever stepped inside a gym, even if they maintain a certain level of training. And that muscle mass isn’t getting rebuilt as long as hormone levels are maintained. However, in some people it can take longer for muscle mass to significantly diminish, and this is where it might be fair to examine whether the current IOC guidelines should be amended. At the moment, with our limited level of research in this field, it seems like the current framework is correct, as the athletic ability of trans women is far closer to that of cis women than cis men.

Bone structure and other things that do not change with the suppression of testosterone

Firstly, women (and people in general) come in all shapes and sizes. There are cis women with narrow hips, wide shoulders, tall women, short women, and the list goes on. Do we exclude certain cis women from sports because of their shape? Bone density is higher in trans women who have had the effects of testosterone, but those bones need muscle to move, muscle which is diminished through a lack of testosterone. Not only is this not an advantage for trans woman, but it could potentially be a disadvantage when compared to cis women. Hating on a trans woman because they have a deep voice, body hair, and look more masculine (permanent effects of exposure to testosterone) only shows that people are afraid of anyone who doesn’t fit their gender stereotypes.

But VO2 max and lactate threshold and…

Back to our historical context. All of these little arguments was made about black people so you are likely falling in the same trap. We all know that was not right now. or so we hope.

Being trans is unnatural

Instead of producing sex hormones themselves, trans people have to get theirs from an external source. The food we eat, medicines we take, and pretty much everything we do in life is unnatural. Trans people are just as natural and biological as everyone else, and claiming otherwise is dehumanising.

Place trans people in a different category

Sports have never been fair. This is a ridiculous suggestion as human physiological and morphological variance has always been an accepted part of sport. No two people are the same, so should we have categories for age, height, weight, limb length, and whatever else people want to categorise? That’s how you can eliminate unfairness in sport, and it’s also how you end up with no competition as every single person will fall under a different category. Or do we only want to exclude an already marginalised and misunderstood population because we dislike anyone who’s different?

Enough with the hypotheticals

Stop reading (and sharing) disingenous articles about trans athletes who’s main purpose is to create an unfounded fear of trans people. Stop cherry-picking research that you didn’t even read (or understand). Stop claiming that trans women are or will be dominating women’s sports. Where do you see this happening? Trans people have been around and allowed to compete (following certain rules) for many years now. Every few years, whenever a trans athlete makes the headlines (because we only care about trans people when they win something), everyone starts heralding the apocalypse, and yet, we’ve never seen a trans woman be the best in any sport, let alone dominating enough that no other woman has a chance at competing. Men do have a significant advantage over women in pretty much every sport. Trans women, however, do not.

Trans men

Trans male athletes exist, but we hear less about them for various reasons. Firstly, society and media is obsessed with women and their bodies. Trans women have always received much more attention because we still live in a misogynistic society where being male is superior. Secondly, environmental effects, wherein trans men who grew up as girls are less likely to take sport seriously because of gender stereotypes. Thirdly, nowadays most people transition in their 20s, and then they have to wait for the effects of testosterone, train, and bulk up, always playing catchup with cis men, so they don’t win (also because men’s sports are much more saturated). Comparatively, trans women are ‘going backwards’ in athletic ability, which is easier.

Fear and prejudice

For the vast majority of people, when they think of a trans athlete, they think of a hulking testosterone filled man who one day just decides to compete against women because it’s easy. Whenever anyone does that, all they’re doing is showing how uninformed and hateful they are, because to them, a trans person will never be anything but their assigned gender. This is an issue that goes beyond sport, and the topic of trans athletes is used to disguise general transphobia.

Different opinions

Having different opinions about this topic and discussing the research related to it is good. However, most people I’ve seen commenting about it are unable to do so without resorting to insults and misgendering of trans people.

Remember that typically, trans women use the female pronouns She/Her, whilst trans men use the pronouns He/Him.

Whether you like it or not, trans people are here to stay, in sport and every other aspect of society.

Acting on the Margins – Arts as Social Sculpture

MGRM and HIV Malta in collaboration with a research team from the University of Malta is conducting a study that aims to explore the stigma of people living with HIV in Malta and in this way, demystify issues related to HIV. The main objective of this study is to increase awareness of this significant social issue through collaboration with MGRM, people affected with HIV and artists.

You are invited to complete an anonymous online survey, which is expected to take approximately 10 minutes. Your participation in this study is voluntary, and does not involve any known or anticipated risks. You are free to stop participating at any time without any consequences. You may also choose to partially complete any question before moving on to the next one. Before you submit the survey, you may review and modify your answers.

You will find information on further participation in this study at the end of the survey.

Please complete the survey by 25th August 2020

Please click on this link to take the survey LINK:

https://www.surveylab.com/pageTag/SurveyCampaign/cId/f0281f9e2326d8c571e5dd43843fb64b9e6a9102bd/

We sincerely value your participation and we will provide access to a report of findings from this study through the MGRM website.

Mapping the Rainbow

Mapping the Rainbow is a collection of research conducted in undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees which focus on LGBTIQ related issues. The publication is a collaboration between MGRM, The Human Rights Directorate and the Department of Gender Studies and Sexualities and the Europe Direct Information Centre of the University of Malta

Amongst others, the studies deal with Non-Conformity and Institutions, Social Issues and Education.

The publication is edited by Dr Marceline Naudi and Dr Claire Azzopardi Lane.

We have got a small number of printing publications which we are distributing for free, but we are asking you to cover the shipping costs. We encourage you to donate to MGRM in order to cover our costs for this and other projects on which we are constantly working. Alternatively, you may wish to download your free eBook by clicking the button below.

No one should be left without a home

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our day-to-day lives unlike anything else in living memory. As we heed to the authorities’ message to self-isolate and stay at home, more and more people are losing their income and becoming increasingly unable to pay rent. Although many landlords have been able to lower the price of rent, this is not a reality for everyone.

MGRM, Allied Rainbow Communities, Checkpoint Malta, and LGBTI+ Gozo have received messages from people in distress who are either losing their homes, or else have become homebound in unsafe places which they are unable to leave.  Unfortunately all the rooms and apartments which we had been offered to us before the pandemic started are already full. This highlights how acute the situation is, whilst leaving us without option but to turn away people.

For this reason, the four NGOs have joined forces to seek to find accommodation for people at risk, or who have already become homeless. If you are able to accommodate someone temporarily whilst the pandemic crisis is ongoing, we would like to invite you to fill this form through which we hope to build a database of vacant places that can be used for altruistic purposes – https://forms.gle/7jVjVUwa8o6evGi4A

If you do not have a room or a place to offer, but would still like to help, you may donate using the below bank details or by using PayPal.  The fund is administered by the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, however all funds will be jointly managed by all four NGOs. Any funds remaining after the crisis will be donated to an external charity chosen jointly between the four NGOs.

If you are not living in a safe home, reach out to any one of us and we will do our utmost to help you.

We are jointly appealing to the nation to support those who need our help.

Bank Details

  • Account Name – MGRM
  • Bank name – HSBC Bank Malta PLC
  • BIC – MMEBMTMT
  • IBAN – MT21MMEB44613000000061249785050

Paypal

Questions to the PL Leadership Candidates

Il-Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) ilha għal dawn l-aħħar għoxrin sena taħdem għall-kisbiet ta’ diversi drittijiet ċivili, li ħafna minnhom inkisbu f’dawn l-aħħar snin. Fid-dawl tal-bidla fit-tmexxija tal-Partit Laburista u allura fil-pożizzjoni ta’ Prim Ministru, drittijiet bħall-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ, id-dritt li familja b’koppja tal-istess sess tkun tista’ taddotta, id-dritt li persuna tibdel il-ġeneru legali skont l-affermazzjoni tal-individwu, id-dritt għal trattament mediku għal persuni trans, u b’mod ġenerali l-ugwaljanza sħiħa quddiem il-liġi jafu jkunu mhedda.

Għaldaqstant, l-MGRM tat l-opportunità lill-Onorevoli Chris Fearne u Robert Abela bħala ż-żewġ kandidati għal din il-pożizzjoni sabiex jagħtu r-risposti tagħhom għal sett ta’ domandi komuni bejn it-tnejn.

Il-kandidati ġew mgħarrfa li r-risposti ser ikunu qed jiġu ppublikati fuq is-sit tagħna, kif ukoll fuq il-paġni tagħna fuq il-mezzi tal-media soċjali li nużaw.

Niżżel ir-rapport finali mill-link ta’ hawn taħt:

[MT] – MGRM – Mistoqsijiet lill-Kandidati


For the past twenty years, the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) has worked hard for the achivement of several civil rights, most of which were achieved in the past few years. As a result of the change in leadership of the Partit Laburist, and therefore the position of Prime Minister, rights such as marriage equality, equality in adoption laws, the right to change name and legal gender, the right to treatement for trans people, and in a general sense, equality in the eyes of the law, could be threatened.

For this reason, MGRM invited the Hon. Chris Fearne and the Hon. Robert Abela, as the two candidates for this position to set the record straight, and answer an identical set of questions related to the above.

The two candidates were made aware that their responses were going to be published on our website as well as on our social media pages.

We would like to note that both the questions and the answers were made in Maltese. Although the responses were professionally translated into English, please refer to the original language in case of any ambiguity.

Download the final report from the link below.

[EN] – MGRM – Questions to the Candidates

With World AIDs Day 2019 Now Behind Us, How Far Has Malta Come In The Fight Against Stigma And Access To PrEP?

2019 was a strong year for HIV activists in Malta, and for World AIDs Day on Sunday, the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement took to Tigne Point to reiterate their stance in the fight against stigma.

They were joined by the Malta Medical Students Association, a strong traditional ally in HIV Activism.

The newly-elected committee decided to revive their commitment of ensuring that human rights apply equally to everyone, with its statute making specific mention of safeguarding the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Mark Josef Rapa, founder of the group PrEPingMalta has been advocating for access to PrEP, a preventative treatment which when taken daily stops the transmission of HIV by more than 99%, also covered the issues that arise from the virus itself and the stigma surrounding it in his column in the Independent.

PrEP has also led to a significant drop in HIV rates across a number of European cities, while Malta saw a rise of over 50% in 2018 and a reported 400 people being treated for the virus in hospitals around the island.

Following calls for easier access, PrEP finally became available for purchase in local pharmacies earlier this year. Until that point, people wanting to protect themselves had to buy the medication online. Name one other medication you’d be willing to buy off the internet, we’ll wait.

MGRM entered the forefront of Malta’s gay advocacy in September 2019, the same month that saw Checkpoint Malta set up – an NGO with hopes of extinguishing the taboo behind HIV and AIDs.

The launch was accompanied by a new website. The first of its kind in Malta, the site has since accumulated over 3,000 page views. Two of the most popular pages explain how to buy and use PrEP and a breakdown of how to cope with daily life post-diagnosis.

An interesting point to note is that while many groups have been campaigning for the public to increase their efforts in testing their sexual health regularly, the page on the site that details how to get tested is still only the third most popular.

This is further indicative of an assumption made regarding the national health policy.

While activism has been strengthening on the side of breaking stigma, 2019 still remains a poor year in regards to the collective health awareness of the country.

Statistics do indicate that people want to know their status, they want to protect themselves. As for those who are HIV+ still wishing for equal treatment, there is still a ways to go. The fight continues to align Malta’s HIV medical care with that of the rest of the continent.

Joe Grima, a representative within MGRM, said of the work the group has done so far:

“We can no longer accept that treatment which is no longer recommended by the European AIDS Clinical Society and World Health Organization is given out. February 2019 saw a missed opportunity with the launch of a flawed Request for Proposal (RFP) which indicated privatising HIV-related care.”

It is still unknown as to whether or not the RFP is still being considered, though expectations for a relaunch late this year still stand. MGRM and HIV Malta stress the urgency of this consideration, stating that unless the RFP includes PrEP trials, it is likely to fall behind as another missed opportunity.

Until then, the people march on. Through the Rainbow Support Services, MGRM and HIV Malta continue to provide free support to those affected by HIV and other members of queer communities.

The new year will see the launch of peer groups and buddy systems for people living with HIV. Support groups, together with constant dialogue with health professionals and policymakers, will continue to ensure that everyone is afforded the same dignity and standards worthy of a citizen of a modern European state in 2020.

Source: Lovin Malta

Tunisian gay asylum seekers in limbo

When professional dancer Chakib Zidi landed in Malta in August 2017 as part of a European tour, he had no idea he would not be able to leave. 

The 29-year-old is gay, something that is deemed illegal in his home country of Tunisia and is punishable by up to three years in jail.  

He is among an undisclosed number of people seeking asylum under Malta’s Refugees Act based on fears their sexuality would result in degrading treatment or punishment in their country of origin.

“While I was working in Malta two years ago, I received an urgent message from my sister and lawyer via Facebook that my house in the Medina area of Tunis was being raided by the police,” he said.

“They also told me that my coffee shop was being searched. The police were looking for proof that I was gay. If I return, I could be arrested or forced to undergo a gay ‘test’ which involves an anal probe. So, I’ve had to seek asylum here in Malta.”

Since then, Chakib has been trying to find out if he will receive international protection. 

He and his partner, theatre director Mohamad Ali ‘Dali’ Agrebi, who is also from Tunisia, live in Fgura with their dog Bobby. They are among a growing group of asylum seekers who are choosing to live openly gay.

“We are very happy here but are still living in a kind of limbo,” continues Chakib. 

“Dali got his visa six months ago, but I am still waiting to receive international protection. This means I can’t travel, get a driver’s licence or even open a bank account. I feel a bit trapped as I can’t visit my family or friends. It also holds me back when it comes to accepting work abroad as a dancer or choreographer as I can’t leave.” 

While Malta ranks first place in the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) index as Europe’s best country for LGBTQ+ law and policy, life is more difficult if you are a migrant or refugee. 

According to the latest information from the European Fundamental Rights Agency, many gay people who are discriminated against for their ethnic origin or religion don’t bother reporting violence or hate speech.

“I am gay. This is who I am,” says Chakib. 

“Yes, I wish I was born heterosexual but there is nothing I can do about that. It’s not my fault. I feel betrayed by my country but all I can do is hope that I can get official status soon so that I can move forward with my life.” 

In Tunisia, human rights campaigners have called for an end to the criminalisation of same-sex conduct and forced anal examinations, but so far nothing has changed. I wish I was born heterosexual but there is nothing I can do about that

Despite this, Chakib and Dali feel they are among the lucky members of Malta’s migrant and asylum-seeking gay community. For this reason, they are working closely with Malta’s LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) in Mosta to help those struggling. 

“It has shocked me to hear what some people have gone through since arriving in Malta,” says Chakib. 

“One man – who was living in Ħal Far – says he felt very threatened there. He had no idea it was legal to be gay here and thought it only happened in places like the US. When he came out with us to places like Paceville, he couldn’t believe the bouncers allowed him into clubs when he was with us, because when he tried before he was turned away as he was black. 

“We took him with us to gay events such as Pride and Lollipop and he was so happy.”

Dali, 26, says there is not enough help for vulnerable gay people who end up in Malta. 

“We hope to set up a space just for migrants and plan to meet so people can be informed about the rights and laws they have here, as well as sexual and mental health services because they vary from country to country,” he said.

Alex Caruana, who works as a Community Outreach Officer, also at MGRM, agrees with Dali. 

He says that some gay migrants face the double challenge of not being accepted because of the colour of their skin and sexuality. 

“Often a person’s experience depends on the social-economic class they fall into, within Malta. 

“For example, if you are in the arts community you might be OK. But if you are a gay, poor, black man working on a construction site, you are probably going to have a harder time,” he said.

Trying to find out exactly how many people are seeking asylum in Malta because they are gay is difficult – but this is something Dali feels also needs to change. 

“It’s so hard to get the numbers and, when we ask, we are told it’s confidential. But if we knew more facts, I think it would be easier for us to know who we should reach out to and help,” he said. 

Source: Times of Malta

18 years of MGRM: Celebrating battles, achievements and pride

One of the first websites which pops up on one’s web searcher when looking up “Gay rights in Malta” is the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, better known as MGRM. For the past 18 years MGRM has been behind the biggest LGBTQ+ achievements on the local scene, and although the NGO is still in its teen years, it has seen many battles, losses and achievements; from the launch of the first National Gay Helpline, the first Pride March in 2004 and in most recent years Marriage Equality. COLETTE FARRUGIA BENNETT is one of the first committee members of MGRM and till this day is working towards educating society on issues and challenges the LGBTQ+ community face, in hope to make life easier not just for the community but everyone else.

COLETTE FARRUGIA BENNETT

COLETTE FARRUGIA BENNETT

We were scared no one would show up: 2004 first Malta Pride

Today, Pride March is celebrated among thousands – people from the LGBTQ+ community, allies, politicians and activists all come together to march for the political reasons and party to celebrate the achievements of the community. Yet, it was not always this way. Colette reflects back to when the MGRM committee first started thinking about hosting a Pride March in Malta. “Back in 2001, Pride March was a big thing abroad, but we were not sure whether the Maltese society was ready for a public demonstration of homosexuality!” She explained that in 2002 and 2003, while there was no Pride March, MGRM organised Diversity Week, a number of events to bring people together and promote more awareness on the community. “We were a group of people with a lot of energy and very little experience but were good fun. We had also organised a ShOUT festival, which was an open air performance on stage with a variety of performances.”ADVERTISEMENT

2004

In 2004, Colette and other committee members decided to plan the first Pride March. “We put up posters around Malta in the middle of the night! I remember on the day there were quite a few police, as they did not know what to expect on the day; both from our side and the public.” She explained that they initially wanted to make a statement; apart from carrying a rainbow flag made out of balloons they also marched with a banner which read Gay Rights equals Human Rights. Collette remembered feeling anxious and nervous on the day, not knowing what to expect from society.

“There were important people there who put their face out and stood by us, Minister Evarist Bartolo, Louise Galea, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Alternattiva Demokratika and Moviment Graffiti. There were more allies than the LGBT community itself and at times that was the running joke for the first few Pride marches. It was a frustrating feeling, although you would invite other LGBTQ+ people they would come up with an excuse, it was frustrating to always put your face out there and very few would follow us. Today the situation is very different and Pride is a much bigger event, yet at times it has become more commercial, which can at times be problematic when highlighting the issues we are fighting for.” She explained that the political message of Pride needs to remain present, that although Malta has advanced in laws and has become more accepting in the past few years, there are a number of countries where it is still a criminal offence to be homosexual and transgender.

“Our message for Pride would be to continue educating society and raising awareness; making life easier for those people facing a challenge with homophobia and transphobia. Secondly, we want to raise awareness of HIV transmissions and the importance of medical and psychological care for those people living with HIV. The reality of living with HIV is very different to what it was in the 90s but it is still important to understand the transmission of HIV and STI’s.”

2008

MGRM has helped me become an activist who is always keen to learn more about people

Collette joined MGRM in 2001, when she was still a first year student at University reading a degree in social work. She remembers that before joining the NGO she recalls the birth of another organisation, Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Movement. “I remember sitting in front of the TV watching the press conference and thinking finally people are coming together to speak about the LGBTQ+ movement!” Although the group was short-lived, some members came together to create MGRM.

2012

“I started volunteering and I became part of this organisation. Before MGRM, my life was very different. I was a passive teenager who wasn’t involved in activism. Joining MGRM and volunteering in the national Gay helpline, I became more active and keen on learning more about the situation both on a local scale and also on what is happening abroad. Nowadays this information is my bread and butter and the knowledge is ingrained in me now.” She explained that she feels privileged to have learnt so much about the community and to have had the chance to travel and learn more by attending numerous forums, trainings and conferences.

2013

She explained that her own studies and research also looked into the LGBTQ+ community. Her first dissertation was about the visibility of bisexuals and lesbians in terms of how social workers view such populations and she explained that the eight-year gap between her first dissertation and her masters shows that there was an improvement in the attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in society. “Over the years, many people have come to the MGRM offices to seek out support. We have seen so many people sit in this counselling space, young people telling us that their parents have been abusive or unsupportive. Now, the situation has changed; not that we do not have these people seeking support, but now we have parents seeking advice on how to support their son or daughter who just came out. They come to us for support and a safe place to discuss what they are feeling.” She said that while society has changed drastically, there are still many other changes to be done. There is still homophobia and transphobia which is still being worked on. Yet there is hope for the future. “We have had information sessions with Education Minister Evarist Bartolo and trans young people, alongside numerous meetings with schools from different backgrounds to highlight more awareness on LGBTQ+ youths. We also had the opportunity to train the psycho-social teams of Catholic schools; we don’t expect people to become experts but to know that if someone out there needs more support outside of the schools, we are here.”

2016

2017

Pride is showing solidarity among one another regardless of our gender and sexual orientation

Colette explained that the meaning of Pride goes way back to 2004; although times have changed, they still march for the same reasons. “We wanted to be heard, counted and considered as equal citizens. As much as equality has improved, there are still inequalities and injustices taking place. Yes, we should celebrate, celebrate diversity, complement one another and come together regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Source: Malta Independent

Gay men will be allowed to donate blood as of next week

Gay men will be allowed to donate blood as of next week, with a blanket ban on blood donation for men who have sexual relationships with other men (MSM) being lifted.

The ban was lifted after the National Blood Transfusion Service acquired advanced testing equipment. 

Last year around 17,000 people visited the Blood Donation Unit and gave their blood, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Wednesday.

That number is expected to rise now that the specialised equipment will allow for Nucleic Acid Testing.

This type of testing will allow testers to identify HIV and other viruses in the blood earlier, as it tests for genetic material rather than antigens or antibodies.

A spokesman for the National Blood Transfusion Service said that restrictions for MSM had been eased and that gay men would be able to donate blood after abstaining from sex for one year.

Dr Fearne said despite launching with an initial one-year deferral period, this may eventually be trimmed down to four months after epidemiological results from the new NAT testing are verified. 

Pride Week timing

In reaction, the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) welcomed the news that gay men would now be able to donate blood. They however noted that the announcement coincided conveniently close to ongoing Pride Week celebrations.

MGRM has insisted that, given the effectiveness of modern testing equipment, it is no longer reasonable to require long periods of abstinence from people, especially those in monogamous relationships, to be able to donate blood.

The NGO said that it has always been open to dialogue in order to better contribute to matters of sexual health as well in the noble gesture of donating blood. 

Source: Times of Malta