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Our LGBTQ identity vis-a-vis Malta's political situation - by Clayton Mercieca

The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of the organisation he represents.

Only a couple of months ago, the rainbow community together with our allies, was filling the Capital City of Valletta with colour, love, freedom, and acceptance towards one another. No political colour stood in our way. We just saw each other as HUMANS worthy of love.

The situation is quite different these days. Valletta's public spaces are suffocated with crowd barriers as they try to restrain the anger, sadness, and confusion that people are expressing daily.

It is affecting many of us psychologically, emotionally and physically to some degree, as we see people becoming increasingly divided and just like anything else in Malta becomes a partisan issue.

In these trying times, remember how our very LGBTIQ identity is political (with a small p). We keep challenging society every day by just our existence and experiences. In order to have achieved the recognition of our own fundamental rights and freedoms that we enjoy today in Malta, people in the past had to be visible, loud, riot, protest, and many times ended up being victims of Church-and-State-sponsored harassment. During these years of limited freedoms, we sought each other's fellowship for safety and belonging.

I’ve been asked to dissociate from anyone waving a pride flag during the current political protests. I obviously won't entertain their request as it would go against our very nature to allow people to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Most of us have been told to feel grateful towards Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for "giving us the rights". But at what cost? Our rights (which are inherent and not given by anyone but recognized) don't stop at equal marriage and recognition of gender identity. We are also citizens living in the same country which is severely affected when corruption is allowed to roam in the corridors of tax-payers' institutions. I am one of many LGBTQ+ people whose wellbeing is negatively affected by the lack of respect towards the environment, by the uptake of public spaces that are converted into money-making monstrosities to be enjoyed by the few, when asylum-seekers are treated like vermin, and when journalists and the press are threatened and silenced by assassination for exposing the worst of malpractices. Again I emphasise, this is not about politics but about everyone’s wellbeing. I wonder if as a nation, we believe this is the best we deserve? I think we can do much better.

This dark moment in Malta's history should be a reminder of how important it is that all politicians are held accountable and that they are not in it so that only a few can benefit, but for everyone in this country to be able to realize their full potential and exercise their freedoms with the greatest respect towards one another despite our beliefs and differences. We must do away with tribal politics for it is harming us all.

I hope we can all heal and evolve from this. Most importantly "Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead." - Oscar Wilde

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