LGBTIQ rights

In the editorial titled ‘No abortion, just reproductive rights’ (January 24), which primarily dealt with the abortion debate, it was claimed that this government had made a mockery of the institution of marriage by introducing marriage equality having promised the gay lobby what cannot be.

The LGBTIQ Consultative Council objects to the derogatory language used in respect to the legal recognition of same-sex couples, which only serves to further foment homophobia and intolerance.

It points out that the practice of portraying the introduction of LGBTIQ rights as a slippery slope to moral decay or, alternatively, as a way of detracting attention from other concerns, is highly unwarranted and unjust. The introduction of police and legal initiatives that diminishes the impact that discrimination, inequality and exclusion have on the lives of LGBTIQ persons is what the LGBTIQ Consultative Council continues to address and strive for, as inclusive human rights.

Marriage equality is the form of legal recognition that ensures the enjoyment on an equal footing of all rights and obligations enjoyed by married different-sex couples. It is also based on an indiscriminate view of the LGBTIQ community as equal members of Maltese society, having equal rights and sharing equal responsibilities.

It also ensures that children of same-sex couples enjoy a relationship with their parent(s) that is recognised and protected by the law, regardless of whether they share a biological link with their parent(s).

The right to private and family life is a fundamental human right and, given that there are no negative consequences that follow from extending this right to all, there is every incentive to do so and to refrain from discriminating against couples on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Euro barometer surveys conducted since the introduction of civil unions clearly indicate that Maltese society has moved on and embraced the legal recognition of same-sex couples. In effect, in 2015, 65 per cent of Maltese respondents were in favour of marriage equality being introduced throughout Europe. This acknowledges the improved levels of social acceptance and Malta should be proud of this.

The LGBTIQ Consultative Council also welcomes the debate around access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The existing legislation clearly discriminates against same-sex couples and infringes on the anti-discrimination constitutional provisions introduced in 2014.

by Gabi Calleja, chairwoman, LGBTIQ Consultative Council, Paola