PL CEO calls for vote to uphold the value of equality

“We must not let the extreme right, which opposes equality, gain a foothold,” Randolph De Battista tells ‘The Journal’.

Staying home or not voting for candidates who do not champion equality in the European elections on the 8th of June could lead to the election of voices that threaten the progress that we have achieved in the equality field so far, warns Government MP and Labour Party CEO Randolph De Battista.

“In countries where the extreme right gained power, the vulnerable and marginalised were most affected. We must not let the extreme right, which opposes equality, gain a foothold,” De Battista told The Journal.

We have got so far

Randolph De Battista highlighted Malta’s transformation in the equality sector since the Labour Party was returned to power in 2013.

“We were in the last place. Since 2013, we have climbed the rankings to reach the top,” he said. This progress reflects the government’s commitment to changing laws and promoting equality. He explained the significance of Malta’s position. “ILGA Europe (the European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) promotes equality for all, especially for gay, trans, bi, and intersex people. They identify good practices and show countries how to amend their laws to create inclusive societies.”

Randolph De Battista, Labour Party CEO and Government MP.

Labour governments have over the years prioritised the rights of LGBTIQ+ people. “The Mintoff government decriminalized homosexuality in the 1970s. From then until 2008, no further advances were made. The Nationalist government later had to introduce legal provisions against workplace discrimination, transposing an EU directive. In contrast, since 2013, the Labour government has introduced laws granting more rights to everyone. Today, gay people can marry and adopt, and trans persons can confirm their gender without undergoing surgery.”

De Battista also addressed the harsh realities of the past. “Before, doctors decided what was best for intersex children. Now, Malta is among the first in the EU to ban non-consensual surgeries on intersex children, allowing them to decide their gender.”

Malta was also the first EU country to criminalise conversion therapy. “While prayer is not the issue, LGBTIQ+ children are not ‘broken’. Studies show the trauma from conversion therapy can last a lifetime,” De Battista said. He mentioned an amendment to ban advertising for conversion therapy, closing a loophole that allowed promotions abroad, such as in the UK, where Maltese individuals were encouraged to undergo such therapy. “There was a lot of money involved,” he added.

No room for complacency

Despite these advancements, De Battista emphasised the need for further progress. “It’s crucial to be mindful of children. Parents should be careful with their comments in front of children, as they absorb their parents’ attitudes. This is important because LGBTIQ+ communities have higher rates of suicide.”

To maintain Malta’s top position in ILGA Europe’s scoreboard, the PL’s CEO called for continued leadership and the introduction of more equality laws. “We need comprehensive sexual education, teaching children in language they understand about body protection and respect,” he said.

Main illustration: Thomas Fuchs

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