From riots to Rainbows: 15 years of Malta Pride

From riots to Rainbows: 15 years of Malta Pride

This year marks 15 years of Malta Pride. Back in 2004 a handful of people decided to take the bold step to march down the streets of Valletta with banner in hands highlighting awareness for the LGBTQI+ community.

“The sound of 100 feet may have seemed like a whisper at the time, but for the gay community it was the drum which beat we still march on today, bigger, louder and brighter,” said Clayton Mercieca, community manager of Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC).

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Mercieca was speaking during the Malta Pride Week Media launch which took place on Wednesday evening at Valletta.

He stressed that the LGBTQ community of 2019 has the duty to recall the stonewall riots.

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This year marks the 50 year anniversary of the Manhattan riots, where members of the LGBT community rioted against a police raid at a frequented bar. “It is an honour to remember and recognise the queer folks that came before us in the fight for equality, and it is our freedom that we owe to the community that made it happen.”

He reflected that although the local LGBTQ community has gained a number of achievements in the past few years, there are still many individuals who hesitate to be their true and authentic gender identity and expression or enjoy themselves outside out of fear of shame or violence.

He said that many ask him why Pride is still relevant, to which he says that the freedoms gained can be lost by a single decision which can reverse history by tens of years. “Pride is there because in a world where people constantly seek excuses to hate and harm each other, we fight and march for the right to love. Is that enough reason to be proud?”

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22 events for Malta Pride Week

Malta pride Week officially starts on Friday 6 September and is a week with at least 22 events hosted by different organisations. There are numerous events, ranging from entertainment parties to insightful discussions, all with the main purpose of brining more empowerment to the LGBTQ community. The concept behind Pride week is to be a tool for social change and to provide useful insight for both LGBTQ community and their allies. One event will be Malta’s first Pride Fashion Show which is led by a Trans individual, a cabaret show and discussion on Chemsex. There will also be a Human Rights Conference organised by the Ministry for Equality.

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‘Diversity strengthens us’ – Equality Minister

Although Equality Minister Edward Zammit Lewis was unable to attend the press launch, a video recording was shown. “Diversity strengthens us, and we must destroy all forms of intolerance and discrimination.”

He highlighted that throughout the past few years, civil society and the government have worked hard for the LGBTQI community, with the overall benefit of improving society in general.

“Not everyone agreed with us but now we cannot imagine Malta without these rights, but it is not enough – we are not done with working and we are trying to continue to eliminate all forms of discrimination. love knows no gender.”

 

Pride is also a harsh reminder of those who are still marginalized and suffer discrimination

Deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg reflected back to 2013 when she had put forward a constitutional amendment making sexual orientation a fundamental right and freedom. “I remember thinking it was useless changing a law if the mentality does not change. Whilst it has been six years since the law has changed and mentality has changed, we still see victims of discrimination.”

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She said that there still is room to improve awareness on support services and to understand better where services are falling behind and the possibility to create new ones. “When one member of our society gives up, it is our responsibility as a society.”

Main partner YOBETIT highlighted that diversity, inclusion and showing respect is part of the Maltese character. “Our company would not have the global growth that we have today if we didn’t allow people to be who they are. This is something that we need in every part of the society. We can’t go forward if we keep holding back people or tell them how to be.”

 

Photos: Alenka Falzon

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