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)!