Opinion Article written by Roberto Herrera.
In order to achieve real equality for LGBTIQ people, we first need to know how it has evolved over the last decades. First of all, We must understand true facts, such as that we were led to believe as a Roman Catholic society that marriage was exclusively for straight people. And that was induced by the influence of the church.
Allow me to refer to the history of my country, Spain, in terms of LGBT rights. There, in the last decades of the 20th century, LGBT people were gathering in nightclubs that were understood to be secret and safe zones of hate. Like here in Malta, in Potters.
A place where anybody could be what they would like to be, understanding that everyone is just as free as you are.
Since the 1970s, Maltese gays began to migrate to more open countries, and this is why London became a Mecca for the community. A capital city with an area that only had gay bars. Today, Malta can be considered more permissive than London, where author Moyra Sammut admits to having experienced more discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
In the 1980s, While Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, she once said: 'Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay'.
A very serious message that would cause thousands of growing British teenagers to think that their sexual concerns were not 'the right thing to do'.
The 80s also saw the arrival of the HIV pandemic, when a lot of gay people got infected by the virus. Furthermore, They did not know the real consequences, how they had been infected in the first place, as nothing was known about the disease.
People started to die, one per one and nobody knew that they were infected, and was caused by the lack of knowledge. The documentary also tells of a pharmacy that was known to refuse to sell condoms to LGBT people, an outrage considering that people were dying all the time.
In the late 1990s, Maltese television featured for the first time the topic of homosexuality, which made Clayton Mercieca, who was only a young teenager at the time, question himself and how he felt. All this while the LGBT community debated between not coming out to protect the others we knew and their families, and coming out because it was a matter of duty.
Today, we must thank to Drag and Trans people for being the pioneers and the visible face of the struggle for liberation. But this does not mean that we are done fighting for rights.
Thanks to them, we have achieved milestones such as the first Malta pride in 2004, the ban on conversion therapies in 2016 and the approval of equal marriage in 2017. And to make Valletta the European capital to host EuroPride in 2023, a well-deserved pride after so many years of being recognised and gaining rights.
LovinMalta, (2022, 23rd April). ARC Allied Rainbow Communities [Video]. Instagram.