Dec 24, 2012

December's Blog - Paul's take on xmas!


We have this new thing we are doing, one of our exec members will be posting a blog, v-log or something of the sort every month. This month it's Paul's turn, and here's a piece he wrote for December... 

I have just returned home from an afternoon of Christmas shopping and as I throw back my espresso and feel the comfort of my radiator slowly warming my room I begin to reflect on the scenes that I witnessed as I navigated through the throngs of people clamoring through the shops in search of the perfect gift. 

I saw mothers lurching as they dragged their gaggle of kids away from the toy store windows so that they could get on with her shopping, the odd couple trying desperately to draw hints from one another as they sluggishly window-shopped, and large groups of loud, energetic teenagers cacophonously calling dibs on which smart phone or tablet they wanted to receive from their parents.  
It reminded me that for all the chaos Christmas brings with it, it also brings a great sense of community and togetherness.  It’s a time for gathering with family and friends, for enjoying life and its simpler things.  

I also became aware of the suffering that this month can bring, especially to those people who for whatever reason are carrying a burden inside, be it coming out or any other concern.  Something about seeing all this happiness and togetherness around you seems to heighten one’s sense of solitude.  I remember when going through my issues with being Gay, Christmas always made me feel more distant from the one’s I loved.  


So I encourage you all this Christmas to reach out to these people, people you know are carrying any kind of burden and try to lift some of the weight.  After all Christmas is a time of giving, and giving time to someone who needs someone and who needs to be reached or heard can be the greatest gift of all.

Happy Queermas Everyone J

Paul

Dec 5, 2012

Looking back on... (part 2)



In 2011
 our main aim was to get university senate recognised, the pros of this are many. From having a vote in the KPS (Social policy commission) and therefore having a say in matters at the University, having the chance to gain some office space on campus, as well as being seen as more of a permanent organisation. 
We were also aware that the original founding members would not be students forever and needed to make sure we set our roots at the University of Malta. 
Weekly meetings were set up and friends of friends started to show up for them, we were networking more and it was awesome!

As in our first year we attended some more workshops and conferences abroad and even organised our very own workshops in Malta! The first one, last September, was an Introductory Workshop on Gender and Sexuality, held on one day and facilitated by Collette Farrugia. 
Then just one month ago, in November, we held a follow-up workshop over a span of two days. Thanks to the support of the American Embassy in Malta we were able to host Jordan Long from IGLYO, who facilitated a very interesting workshop on Gender, Sexuality and Education. 

Our main goal in our second year, that of getting Senate Recognition was reached. But we also managed to gain office space, and for the first time in our third AGM (annual general meeting) elections were held for the board positions! 

More about that next time, in one week, when we explain what is happening with We Are now! 






Dec 2, 2012

Looking back on.... (part 1)

Looking back on our first year as a university organisation


In November 2010 we had just started out as an organisation on campus. We were new, just had our first AGM, and held our first event (a stand on World AIDS Day). 

Our first uncertain steps in the world of students organisations led us down many interesting paths. What we lacked in experience (a lot) we made up for in enthusiasm. 

Our aims that year where to get out there, and make sure people got to know us. We participated in as many University weeks as possible; from Christmas on Campus to Human Rights Weeks to Organisations Days to the following (academic) year's Freshers Week.



Not having much financial support at the start, our efforts were either online or very environmentally friendly. We had to constantly think outside the box to come up with economically-feasible ways to express our ideas. This included a lot of paper crafts and home-made posters to decorate our information stands. 


By the end of the year we were a bit more well known, we had participated in our first Pride March as an organisation, as well as having a joint event with MGRM for IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). 

Finally we also became a member organisation of IGLYO and had the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences abroad and in Malta. This helped the executive members gain experience in the field of LGBT activism as well as more knowledge with running student organisations.


What we learnt in our first year we made sure to carry on to our second one, which was even more successful... But you can read more about that in three days time. 





Written by Romina Tolu - Communications Officer


Jun 30, 2012

I AM - PRIDE 2012


Speech delivered by Luisa Tolu, member of We Are: The University of Malta LGBTQQI Organisation, at Pride 2012

Contact We Are for more information: weareuom@gmail.com and Luisa on 99241063


30th June 2012, Sliema



2 years ago We Are, the University LGBTQ organisation, was formed by 6 students, with the aim of bringing together lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and other non-normative youth to improve our lives together through education and support.

This year the organisation has grown. We have seen more youth actively join us and find a voice and, we have built a strong community which enables us to face the challenges of being young and queer in Malta. We are a truly diverse group with active members coming from all over Malta and Gozo and a handful of international students. We provide a welcoming environment for all of these, making members feel comfortable and giving them a sense of belonging. Through our events we have spoken to many others and felt that our presence as active youth in society made a difference to their lives.

One event in particular struck a chord. We visited Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School in Naxxar last May and found that the students there were starving for information on sexual orientation and gender identity. They asked so many questions and really contributed to the discussion. Their enthusiasm for knowledge was inspiring and overwhelmingly positive. It drove home the point that we really need to start speaking about the diversity of sexuality and gender in schools and we have to start doing it now!

Discussing sexuality and gender will empower young people by allowing them to explore their own identity and to be themselves. It will also give them a louder voice and greater strength. In fact we continue to believe that the empowerment of youth is crucial and that is why we find this year’s pride theme so compelling. Stating ‘I AM’ is a way to express our individual value and the importance of our individual voices.
By expanding this to include us all we can then say ‘We Are’ and that is a strong way of connecting us, so that we can act together and be a voice for others who still haven’t found their own.

So let us join forces as organizations and as individuals to change education, legislation and norms and to prove that together we make the difference.

Jun 25, 2012

I AM - PRIDE WEEK 2012



It is once again that time of the year - PRIDE WEEK is upon us, and we are ready to celebrate and call for equality. Pride this year starts off with the Pride March on Saturday at 10:30 am near Surfside, Sliema.

See more details of other events during the week at the bottom of this post;

For more info you can check out MGRM's Facebook page and website!


I am is the theme for Pride Week 2012. It is meant to remind everyone that LGBT individuals are part of society - just people, everywhere, living their lives and being themselves. The only difference is that we still have to fight for rights that other people take for granted.. safe streets and schools, acceptance from parents, being treated equally in employment, recognition of our relationships and families, free healthcare.. (from MGRM)

Click Here to view Posters, cover photos and images which you can download to print and show off during the march on Saturday, or to use as desktop images on your laptops, phones and tablets! 


The Pride Week events are:
Pride March – Saturday 30th June – gathering at 10.30am near Surfside
LGBT Film Festival @ St James Cavalier featuring Get Real! Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Bloomington. All films start at 9pm.
WomenSpace - Wednesday 4th July - @ Tal-Ferha Estate in Gharghur – for lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer and straight women.
We Are Football Tournament - Thursday 5th July - 5pm-8pm 
S2S Official Gay Pride Party – Saturday 7th July @ Gianpula – 10pm onwards

May 24, 2012

'We Are' thanks MEPs for their vote in favour of anti-homophobia motion


'We Are' thanks MEPs for their vote in favour of anti-homophobia motion
A resolution on the fight against homophobia was adopted with a large majority in the European Parliament this afternoon. University LGBTQQI organisation, 'We Are' thanks all the Maltese MEP's who voted in favour of this resolution.
Whilst recognising the importance of this resolution, 'We Are' also urges Maltese authorities to contribute to this fight against homophobia by amending laws where necessary, as well as ensuring that topics on sexual orientation and gender identity are included in the national curriculum. President Christian Vella also added that 'this provides hope, for a better and safer Europe, if all member states, including Malta, where to foster such an implementations'.

Speaking on behalf of the EPP group last Tuesday, Simon Busuttil said 'There is no doubt that the EPP group condemns homophobia and we believe homophobia must be fought', he also added 'In Europe there is no room for discrimination of any kind, and this applies also for homophobia'.
It is also very positive to see Maltese MEP David Casa appear in a video released by the LGBT Intergroup on International Day Against Homophobia last Thursday.

An online petition which gathered almost 400 votes in it's first three hours was started this morning by 'We Are' urging people to let the Maltese MEPs know that they care about the resolution.

Resolution on the Fight against homophobia


Here's our e-mail to Maltese MEPs sent this morning:

We are aware that today at 12:00 a resolution on the fight against homophobia in Europe will be voted on in the European Parliament.
Seeing as you have signed ILGA-Europe's Be Bothered! pledge we urge you to vote in favour of this resolution.
We're sure you're aware that Malta has the worst record for LGBT rights in the EU according to ILGA-Europe's Rainbow Map published last week. Just last January two cases with possible homophobic elements came to light in the press, and more go unreported.
As a University group We Are has had the chance to speak to students about homophobia, and these conversations have made it clear that students feel that more education is required on homosexuality and the damaging effects of homophobia.
Take a moment to view the situation from our perspective and show us that you really are committed to this cause: actions speak louder than words,


Make your voice heard too: 



May 17, 2012

MOVIMENT GRAFFITI AND WE ARE JOINT PRESS STATEMENT SOLIDARITY FOR TRANS PEOPLE IN TURKEY



Moviment Graffiti and We Are – The University of Malta LGBTQQI Organization would like to mark IDAHO, the international day against homophobia and transphobia, by referring to the situation of trans persons in Turkey. We believe it is important to bring attention to the conditions faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially trans people in Turkey. There have been at least two cases of murder as a hate crime in the last few months, with some estimates reaching 20 murders of trans persons per year. In this EU candidate country it is unacceptable to see such widespread crimes related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

When the Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egeman Bagis was in Malta a few weeks ago, he spoke of how Turkey's accession negotiations are improving the country, even saying that Turkey's full membership was not so appealing as was the prospect of achieving a freer and more open society. Mr. Bagis also spoke eloquently on the European Union as a peace project. Commendable words, to be sure, but reeking of hypocrisy when noting that Turkey has among the worst records of investigating hate crimes of this sort.

A young woman by the name of Tugce was murdered in Izmir, her body unrecognizable from the assault. Another woman, Nuket, was stabbed 40 times, but the murderer claimed he lost consciousness and could not remember using the knife so many times. Another case in Istanbul highlights this dire situation even more clearly – a police officer shot a trans sex worker in the back after she refused to pay a fine.

While hate crimes cannot be attributed to the state, we encourage a system of tough laws as deterrence to such crimes, along with the education needed to encourage tolerance and acceptance of diversity. However the incident of the police officer is particularly troubling in that it is symbolic of the greater system that is acting like this, breeding intimidation and fear also from the institutions.

We are therefore re-iterating our belief that Turkey needs to crack down on such crimes, hard, if their candidature is to be taken seriously. Mr. Bagis claimed that negotiations take time and over time Turkey is improving. We say that improvement is not enough, we want an immediate change in policy on trans people and an end to systematic violence and discrimination against LGBT people. The Turkish government is obliged to introduce and implement hate crime laws, including crimes against LGBT people. We state, “Freedom of choice is an almost sacred right in our societies. Staying silent in the face of crimes done in order to stop people from choosing for themselves, in order to intimidate and to spread fear, is unacceptable. If Turkey wants to be part of Europe, it must go from paying lip-service to the ideals held by the member states to acting by them.”

MGRM AND WE ARE JOINT PRESS STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA & TRANSPHOBIA (IDAHO): 17TH MAY 2012




HOMOPHOBIA, BIPHOBIA & TRANSPHOBIA IN EDUCATION

MGRM AND We Are would like to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia which is celebrated annually on the 17th May. Adverts from MGRM’s Think Before You Speak: Making Life Better for LGBT Youth Campaign will be displayed on a number of newspapers on the day. The University LGBT group We Are will also be holding a Flowers of Friendship event on campus, distributing flowers to students. Both activities are being supported by the US Embassy.
Activities on IDAHO are being supported by the US Embassy

The focus for this year’s activities around the world is homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education. Numerous studies continue to demonstrate that a significant percentage of LGBT youth are victims of bullying due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in the schools they frequent. This has an impact on their well-being and also effects their school attendance and academic achievement. Schools should be safe spaces for all students and research demonstrates that policies that directly address homo/bi/transphobic bullying do make schools safer.

It is therefore unfortunate that the new National Curriculum Framework currently fails to make any specific reference to issues that most effect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. This continues to render members of the LGBT communities – students, parents, administrators, teachers, and other staff — invisible in the Maltese education system.

Moreover, while reference is made to the learning environment no mention is made to ensuring the physical and emotional safety of students. MGRM and We Are hold that safety is a precondition for learning and that the absence of any reference to addressing bullying is of grave concern. Our educational institutions should be committed to providing each student with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours needed to live in a complex and diverse world. This includes ensuring that any language or behaviour that deliberately degrades, denigrates, labels, stereotypes, incites hatred, prejudice, discrimination, harassment towards students or employees on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identification will not be tolerated and the prohibition of such language and behaviour should be included in student and teacher Codes of Conduct.

Gabi Calleja, coordinator from MGRM states: ‘No LGBT student should have to suffer just because of who they are. This means making sure that schools are safe places for all and that the diversity of the student population is reflected in the curriculum.’

Luisa Tolu, a member of We Are adds, "last week We Are had the chance to speak to students at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School and one sentiment emerged very clearly from these conversations; that there isn't enough visibility of LGBT issues within our education system and that every student would benefit if they are provided with information about sexual orientation and gender identity from a young age."


May 14, 2012

We Are at GCHSS' Human Library


Last Friday Daniel and Gaby, two of our members, acted as books at a Human Library event organised by the Sociology department at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School in Naxxar.  Here they relate their experiences but you can find out more about the event at https://www.facebook.com/HumanLibraryGchss.

Daniel:  On Friday I had to act like a book and students could approach me to talk to me about LGBT issues and ask questions. To be honest, my expectations were quite low and I didn't really expect anyone to come to us. Boy was I surprised. We had three groups, each group larger than the previous one, and we basically spent 3 hours talking non-stop. It was very heartening to see students (though aside from 4 guys in the last group, all of them were women) so very interested in what we had to share with them. Some of them even got this look in their eyes that really made Gaby and me feel that what we were saying was all important and very crucial. It was a beautiful feeling, especially considering my initial pessimism. At one point we were approached by someone who wanted to share a personal experience, we provided support, listened to their story and told them they could also contact the National Gay Helpline for more support.  Ultimately, on Friday I felt like we made a difference, and learnt that there is a serious lack of education with regards to the LGBT community, particularly trans issues, which tend to be overshadowed by lesbian and gay issues.

Gaby:  I think that overall the turnout was better than anyone expected. In all we spoke to about 50 people, each one contributing to the discussion and asking questions and all appeared genuinely interested in hearing our stories and learning from our experiences. I feel like we dealt with some misconceptions about gender roles and stereotyping and made a difference in the way people view certain situations. Education was brought up time and time again, some non-LGBT people insisting that it should start from primary school. Trans issues and misconceptions about bisexuality were also discussed in detail and one very nice bi guy shared his feelings about bi people being told to just pick a side. It was very apparent that Trans issues are very rarely touched and this makes me want to get something started to be there for these people who at 16 are struggling with this and have no one to turn to and also a support system for their partners.... definitely a productive day and it seems like this may become a yearly thing as the response was overwhelmingly positive. Better than anyone could have expected, (also there was coffee and sandwiches so Gaba was happy)!

Apr 27, 2012

We Are at MCAST's Diversity Day (29th April 2012)

MGRM and WE ARE at MCAST Diversity Days Yesterday

We Are at MCAST's Diversity Day (29th April 2012)
Yesterday We Are joined MGRM and stepped into the MCAST campus following an invitation to participate in their Diversity Day.  It was an opportunity to observe students and speak to the few who braved the heat and the clear queerness of our stand (MGRM decorated it with the 4 large LGBT giants, two big panels and loads of rainbow accessories!). 
We're toying with the idea of expanding/supporting a campaign in MCAST but only through feedback and direct involvement of MCAST students.  So if you're an inspired MCAST student let us know and we can discuss possible strategies for interaction!   The fact that very few students came up to the stand to speak to us could mean that having an LGBT stand still makes people uncomfortable (although it could mean other things too!) so having a campaign about sexual orientation and gender identity could be appropriate.  Indeed there were some students who were hovering about but not confident enough to approach, and this is OK, though we don't bite ;). 

Actually we do realise that our colourful and obvious presence might be daunting to some and don't take this against them, in fact, if you don't feel comfortable approaching an LGBT stand in a public space you can still get to know us via email, or by attending our more private events [film nights and picnics and etc...]. 
To get in touch with We Are email us on weareuom@gmail.com and we'll get back as soon as we can!

Mar 28, 2012

Relaxed Night and Picnic time!


Film Night Postponed...We regret to inform you that we did not find a location for tonight's film night. However we are still meeting up, as we still want to get to know you!
So whoever is still up for meeting... 20:00hrs at University Quad, from where we will decide on a cafe'/bar together and move off towards our destination! 

If you're joining us later, contact Mina on 99801261, or Gaby on 99207694! 

Picnic time... 

All the info in the poster and on facebook! :) 


Mar 8, 2012

Challenging Gender Stereotypes @University and more!

Gaby, Mina and Luisa #occupyhate - a message to be yourself, a message against homophobic bullying

Challenging Gender Stereotypes - Encouraging Dialogue
We Are took part in this week's Organisation's Days organised by KSU to showcase the different university student organisations.

We had a stand on Quad, of course very noticeable with a rainbow flag flapping in the wind. From Monday we started an exercise to encourage dialogue and challenge stereotypes. 'What Makes a Man, a Man?' and 'What Makes a Woman, a Woman?' were two questions we posed to passer-bys via a life-size silhouette. Students were encouraged to sketch or jot down their thoughts; however once the specifically biological differences had been put down, many people were at a loss of particular differences. Ensuing in discussions about the societal construct that is gender...

Students were also invited to stand in front of our flag with a message and the #occupyhate poster. Some photos of the event are up on our facebook page!

Finally we ended the wonderful three days with a movie-night at the common room yesterday, after some technical glitches we managed to get going. It was also nice to see some new faces at the event.

We Are would like to thank all those who turned up during the week, making it all worth it!


Next Wednesday at 13:00 there is a meeting open to all our members, these meetings will be held every week for the rest of the semester. We generally meet at the quadrangle first, and move on from there.

See you!

Mar 5, 2012

Film Night and Organisations' days!

Our stand on Monday! MGRM's posters - think before you speak campaign-, rainbow flag, and a challenge gender stereotype silhouette!
It's time for organisation's days at the University of Malta. Throughout this week different organisations at the university have set up stands and organised events and debates for everyone!

We Are have a stand in Quad, as well as a Film Night on Wednesday!

This time we are screening 'Mambo Italiano' - on Wednesday 7th March, at the KSU common room at 7:30 PM. We are promoting the idea of a comfortable space to meet up and talk, and relax together. 

Statement to the Press

Statement to the Press

The Malta Gay Rights Movement together with Integra Foundation, Drachma, LGBT Labour and We Are welcome Minister Chris Said’s announcement with regards to proposals for the extension of hate crime legislation to include the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, ethnic origin, religion or belief or political or other opinion.

The enactment of such legislation sends a strong message that bias motivated crime is not acceptable in a society that aims to provide equal treatment to all its citizens and offers much needed protection to a wider range of vulnerable groups. We hope that this will also be accompanied by appropriate training to the police force with respect
to the identification of hate crimes, accompanying measures aimed at reaching out to potential victims and adequate data collection of such crimes.

We also commend the proposal to extend the NCPE remit beyond that based on gender and race to incorporate other grounds including gender identity and sexual orientation. This will enable NCPE to go beyond its current efforts which, when addressing such grounds have been limited to research and awareness raising. Providing that legislation
is also accompanied with the additional resources required NCPE would also be able to offer support to victims of discrimination.

Maria Pisani stated: "Integra supports these new proposals. But we would like to highlight that to bring about substantive change, legislative change must be accompanied by cultural change. This requires education programs and community awareness raising to change homophobic attitudes". 

Gabi Calleja said: "Such legislation has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of LGBT individuals. I hope that it will encourage individuals to come forward and seek assistance when they are victims of violence or discrimination".



Feb 22, 2012

Night Out!

PARTY TIME!

After the success of last December's Queermas event, we've decided to organise another night out. This time in Paceville.

The executive will be meeting at the Olde Keg at 22:30, this Saturday 25th February, and we will see where the night takes us from there. We'd love to get to know our members, so come and find us!
If you're joining later, feel free to contact Mina on 99801261 to find out where we are!

See you Saturday