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Labour Party's new LGBT network (1)

Last week a great historical event occurred: for the first time in Malta's history, Malta's Labour Party acknowledged the needs of the LGBT community by launching the first LGBT political group. This group strives to push forward equality and rights for the LGBT community, something which no other political party endeavours to do.

The term LGBT was first coined in the 1990s and has since become known as the international colloquial term emphasising the diversity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals. This term has also been used worldwide to refer to anyone who is not heterosexual.

People within the LGBT community have long since been treated as second-class citizens who do not enjoy the benefits of equal rights as heterosexual people. Thankfully in most of the world this has ceased to be the case. However, unfortunately, in Malta this is very much the truth - although people have become accepting (to a certain extent) we are not treated as equals.

The only legislation to have been passed was by Dom Mintoff in the 1980s decriminalising homosexual acts. So thankfully we now enjoy the privilege of doing legally what comes naturally to us. One must ask, however, whether this is enough? This group acts for the good of the LGBT community to promote their rights; not only, as the majority of the Maltese people seems to think, for marital rights but also civil rights.

One might think that gay people enjoy the same benefits that everybody else does, but this is sadly not the case. Are we allowed bereavement leave if our partner were to pass away? No.

Are we entitled to their inheritance in absence of a will? No. Are we considered family when visiting our partner in hospital during family hours? No. Are we entitled to the same civil benefits of a married couple? No. As one can see, it is not only marriage that we are fighting for, but merely to receive the same benefits as a heterosexual couple. Are we not entitled to this? Why should one's sexuality play any part in determining what would otherwise be considered as our basic human rights?

These are exactly the issues which LGBT Labour is trying to fight for. We are not intending to segregate the community, as has been thought by several readers, but rather to fight for equality as a community.

Since no other political party or non-governmental organisation is attempting to do this, the formation of this group, under the open-minded leadership of Joseph Muscat, is a necessary step in the progression of the LGBT community in Malta.

LGBT Labour opens its arms to anyone within the community who wishes to join, no matter their political views or status. We call on the people of our community who, one assumes, would want to be treated with equal respect - and not just acceptance - to join us in fighting for what should be rightfully ours.

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