To Convert or Not To Convert

To Convert or Not To Convert

Conversion therapy is an act of attempting to change something about someone – generally through aversion therapy. So think electroshock therapy and fear. The general consensus amongst mental health professionals is that conversion therapy, particularly gay conversion therapy is inhumane and does not work.

Unfortunately, things take a while to reach this island. And even though our mental health professionals and associations have explicitly stated that they are against gay conversion therapy – our dear religious institution (ie. Church of Malta/Curia) has stated that it is in FAVOUR of gay conversion therapy, and that the proposed bill which would make it illegal has “serious ethical and legal issues”.

I have many issues with the Church’s position paper, but I’ll stick to my main ones.

1. The Church submitting a policy paper on an issue which is not religious is frankly ridiculous.

2. Comparing paedophiles with homosexuals is ignorant at best. Paedophiles have been found to be interested in children, regardless of their gender. So no, they’re not homosexuals, or heterosexuals for that matter. They are attracted to children for the sake of them being children.

3. The idea that homosexuals are superior to heterosexuals is completely flawed. There are laws stating that you cannot fire someone from their employment because they’re gay for the simple reason that no one in history has ever been fired for being straight. That shows that gay people are not superior to straight people – quite the opposite in fact.

4. The Church states that the law discriminates against straight people because it does not protect them from being pushed into conversion therapy to make them gay. Here I ask ANYONE who was pressured or forced to be gay to please message me with your story. Frankly, at least to my knowledge, no one has ever been kicked out of their home for being straight, or ostracised, or forced into conversion therapy.

This position paper shows the sheer homophobia still present within Malta’s religious institution, where they cannot even be in favour of a bill which would protect innocent people from therapies designed at making them hate themselves.

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LGBTI+ Gozo: New Year More Work

Following the publication of the white paper entitled ‘The Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Act’ (SOGIGE), various entities expressed their support for this proposed bill, which would effectively ban gay conversation therapies, a highly controversial procedure which aims to ‘convert’ people who identify as homosexual into heterosexuals. One such entity to express its support is LGBTI+ Gozo, a youth-led organization.


LGBTI+ Gozo stated that the proposed bill was a large step forward in the right direction, and complemented the various national and international events which will be held in Malta in 2016. One such international event is the annual IGLYO Conference which will be held in Malta for the first time. IGLYO is an International youth and student organization focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer and intersex youth.

LGBTI+ Gozo also expressed the need for a health clinic to be instated in Gozo. Currently, there is no GU Clinic, which would offer free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, in Gozo. Such a clinic, as well as various awareness campaigns, could help the population on Malta’s sister island to live a healthy sexual life.

When it comes to sexuality, the organization will be planning various seminars regarding the different aspects of sexuality. These seminars are fittingly entitled ‘Better Together’, so do keep an eye out should you be interested in learning more about these topics.

Finally, a few months short from its two year anniversary since being instated, LGBTI+ Gozo launched its website, which can be accessed at lgbtigozo.com, which will serve as a link between the organization and the general public. On the website one will find an events planner to keep up with all that the organization is planning, a blog run by the organization itself where it deals with various LGBTI+ issues, and a contact form should anyone wish to get in touch.

How Ambulances Show Our Humanity

How Ambulances Show Our Humanity

In Malta, the standard procedure is to move out of the way when an ambulance is driving by, especially if the lights are flashing (the siren doesn’t need to be on, since patients with heart problems shouldn’t hear the sound). Unfortunately, not everyone is actually in the habit of moving aside for an ambulance – and I feel that this says a lot about the humanity of that person, and what that could reflect about my generation (and younger).

Generally, once an ambulance gets on a road, the cars immediately shift to the side and stop, or at least, slow down if there aren’t that many cars around – Thus allowing a quick and safe passage for the ambulance to get to its destination.

You will also see people who hesitate – these won’t instantly move to the side,  but wait until the ambulance is behind them before moving. This gives the impression that they were hoping to reach their destination before realising that they still had to move to the side for the ambulance to pass. The driver, in this case, is solely thinking of him/herself, and what they want, without considering that an ambulance is there for people who need quick medical assistance. By slowing the ambulance down (which you effectively are if you wait til the last moment to shift aside) you are placing someone’s life in risk. And no matter how late you are, that is no excuse because the ambulance will fly by and you’d be back on the road barely a minute later. So if you were late, you’re still going to be late.

There are also people who take advantage of ambulances – and drive directly behind them in a bid to skip all the traffic. This is sheer ignorance and selfishness. The drivers moved aside for an ambulance to pass, when that ambulance passes they want to return to their journey. So firstly, by driving behind the ambulance you’re slowing down everyone else when you have no need, and secondly, these cars which take advantage of ambulances generally drive at high speeds to keep up with the vehicle – all you need is for someone to not pay full attention to their surroundings, and voila – crash. So don’t put others (and yourself) in danger – stick to your place.

And finally, there are people who park in terrible locations and block the road for ambulances. This is mainly relevant to the University. With the new policy of buses parking at the University terminus, you will generally see around  buses parked at a time. Therefore, for people to actually get on a bus, the bus would firstly ned to stop in the middle of the road (since there is no space for it to move to the side) and people need to navigate between buses to get onto the one they need. But by stopping in the middle of the road, the buses block the route used by ambulances when they leave the hospital. This severely slows down the ambulance which has to wait, with its sirens and lights flashing, until people board the bus, pay for their ticket/use their card, and the driver sets off. This can easily take a couple of minutes depending on how many people are boarding.

 

Ambulances are essential to our health care provision. It needs to be respected, particularly on the road. By not instantly moving aside to make space for an ambulance to pass, you’re saying that your business is more important than another’s life.

Fear of the F-Word

Fear of the F-Word

The word “feminism” is generally treated as a dirty word, used to describe crazy man-haters who complain about everything and won’t stop until all males are eradicated. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s wrong.

Feminism is that strange belief that women and men should have the same opportunities, treatment, rights and responsibilities. And yes, the developing world still needs feminism.

Wherever there are opposites, there is power – with one party being dominant over another. Boss/Employee, White/Black, Abled/Disabled…and even Male/Female. And that’s what feminism is about, fighting against the dominance of men over women. Does that make them man-haters? No. Feminists don’t hate men, they hate the Patriarchy – a system which views men as superior to women on the basis of gender. So does the patriarchy only affect women negatively? No, again. Men suffer as well because of it.

I personally view feminism as a movement striving for equity. Equality has a better ring to it, but equity is what we’re really striving for. Men and women are not exactly the same, and there are different needs which need to be addressed. Assuming that men and women need the same things to have the same opportunities and freedoms is naive. To give an example, girls/women are taught that they have to remain virgins until marriage, that sex is not for pleasure and that having sex makes them dirty and unwanted. Boys are not taught this. It is girls who have barely hit puberty (if they even do) who mostly end up forced into marriages – which leads them to die during childbirth because their body is not developed enough.

So why not just call it egalitarianism or equalitarianism? Because by doing so one is dying the history of the movement and denying that in the male/female dynamic, the male is dominant over the female. Trying to change the term “feminism” to one of those two is like saying that “Black Lives Matter” should become “All Lives Matter” – yes all lives are important, regardless of race, but black/coloured people are the ones who are most likely stopped by the police in New York and frisked – or shot for having a toy gun. In the same way, all genders should be equal, but it is women/people with vaginas/self-identified females who experience discrimination and harassment the most.

 

Feminism should not be a dirty word -it should be a movement we all join.