International day against Homophobia, Biphobia and transphobia

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International day against Homophobia, Biphobia and transphobiaLGBTI + Gozo, Gender Liberation and Drachma (Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group), three NGOs within the LGBTI Spectrum organised a Press Conference in front of the Parliament in Valletta to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

This event is celebrated annually around the World on the 17th of May and aims to raise awareness on LGBTIQ rights, the violation of such, and to generate interest and public awareness on sexual and gender diversity.

The three NGOs work in different niches within the LGBTI community and said that they have joined forces for one purpose: creating unity within diversity. An official programme of events was presented during the press conference with different events catering for all.

Eman Borg, Chairman of LGBTI + Gozo stated, "Gozo is taking the natural step of living reality, being LGBTI is becoming ever easy, however resistance can still be found and therefore commemorating such day is as important."

"As today we celebrate our first year anniversary LGBTI + Gozo is committed in creating a safe place to all LGBTI individuals. More over education is a key tool that should be used within all spectrums of society to educate not only about LGBTI but about diversity in general. We live in a day and age where individuals are put in a box and labelled and if you do not fit in such you are different and out of place. This should be demolished," he said.

"Gender liberation comment," added IDAHO, "gives us all at Gender Liberation the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to continue to empower the gender diverse communities of Malta and Gozo through advocacy, education, and outreach."

"We stand in solidarity with all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender non-binary individuals, and will continue working towards achieving a reality where the equality and dignity of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is truly achieved. Discrimination against LGBTIQ persons must end — and it must end now," they said.

"While we have achieved high legal standards through the Civil Union Act and GIGESC, the LGBTIQ+ community in the Maltese Islands still faces threats of stigma, discrimination, and violence.

"We each have a responsibility to oppose any kind of violence wherever we encounter it, and to speak out against injustice wherever it occurs. Gender Liberation will continue to stand against the marginalisation and persecution of LGBTIQ people ,and we will keep working to ensure that society in this nation moves forward towards our shared goal of liberation for all."

Drachma Coordinator Chris Vella went on to say, "although the legal infrastructure for the respect of LGBTIQ rights has been put in place, we are aware that culture and popular mentalities take much longer to change and become more inclusive, respectful and accepting of difference in all its forms. This is often because people do not know enough about these realities and only increased public awareness can make all forms of discrimination a thing of the past."

"Indeed," he added, "IDAHO should serve to remind us what ignorance on these issues can lead to discrimination, criminalisation, fear, hatred and violence. This is still the reality in several countries around the world. Drachma's contribution this year will be the publication of a new book 'Uliedna Rigal' that will be a useful resource and tool for parents of LGBTIQ persons, for educators and for specialists in the care professions to better understand the LGBTIQ reality and integrate more healthily all persons in family and social life."

The programme is as follows:

Prayer Vigil and Celebration of IDAHO: including a book launch of a Drachma Parents publication: Uliedna Rigal on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 at 19.00 at the University Chaplaincy – Drachma (Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group).

Better together: Celebration Lunch on Saturday 21 May 2016 at 13.00 at the Pebbles Marsalforn.

The NGOs concluded by saying that such event is another step forward in the cross collaboration between organisations working in the same field and with one common purpose, that of creating a safe space for all, irrespective of one's sexual orientation and gender identity.

They invited the general public to attend the programme of events in the forthcoming week.

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