University distances itself from discrimination and racial hatred
The University of Malta yesterday underlined its commitment to supporting and protecting diversity and the rights of all individuals and dissociated itself unreservedly from all actions, whether verbal or otherwise, which attempt to promote discrimination and/or incitement to racial hatred against any groups of people.
It was reacting to reports last weekend that a lecturer had taken to social media to give a gender history of a person who had protested against during an activity organised by an organisation that calls itself the Għaqda Patrijotti Maltin, in the form of a protest march against the setting up of Mosques and to express what they described as ‘solidarity’ with the people of Qawra and Buġibba
The lecturer, Stephen Florian, has since apologised.
In a statement, yesterday, while affirming the right to freedom of expression and association, the University of Malta condemned all actions which are motivated, wholly or partly by any form of hostility towards diverse groups.
The University said it prides itself in fostering diversity and provides a welcoming learning environment to more than 12,000 students including over a thousand undergraduate and post-graduate students hailing from 92 countries. The lecturing community is in itself international and diverse.
By way of clarification, and contrary to some reports included in sections of the media, the individual in question, Stephen Florian, is not a full-time academic but a visiting part-time lecturer.
The University of Malta said it is investigating the matter with immediate effect.
Despite his apology, Mr Florian could still be prosecuted and face a fine of between €1,000 and €5,000.
A spokesperson for Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli pointed out to our sister Sunday publication that Mr Florian’s actions could very well be prosecutable, citing Article 11 (1) of the Gender Identity law which stipulates: “Whosoever shall knowingly expose any person who has availed of the provisions of this Act, or shall insult or revile a person, shall upon conviction be liable to a fine of not less than one thousand euro (€1,000) and not exceeding five thousand euro (€5,000).”
According to the spokesperson, the Article was intentionally included in the law to cover cases where “the exposure of the person’s sexual identity is used to undermine that person’s democratic and civil rights that emanate from this or any other law.”
On Saturday, Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo took to Facebook to condemn the attack by the socalled ‘patriots’ against Alex Caruana. “These attacks are absolutely unacceptable; all of this because this student decided to favour respect towards other cultures and religions.”
He also added that the work of an educator is to civilize, and not to instigate hatred.
Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola described Saturday’s social media incident as a shameless spreading of hatred. “Very worrying for the future of the country when coming from someone who has had a sound cultural and educational formation,” he said in a Facebook post.