Stephen Flo­rian re­signs from Univer­sity post af­ter trans­gen­der con­tro­versy

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Lec­turer Stephen Flo­rian has re­signed his post from the Univer­sity af­ter the con­tro­versy that erupted fol­low­ing com­ments he made about a trans­gen­der per­son on Face­book.

The part-time vis­it­ing lec­turer sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, the Univer­sity said in a state­ment. The res­ig­na­tion was ac­cepted.

The Univer­sity said that it em­braced diver­sity and pro­vided a wel­com­ing at­mos­phere to all 12,000 stu­dents.

Ear­lier this week the Univer­sity of Malta 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 the 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 Ghaqda 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 Bugibba.

The lec­turer, Stephen Flo­rian, has since apol­o­gised.

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 post­grad­u­ate 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. He has since apol­o­gised for his com­ments. But De­spite his apol­ogy, Mt 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 had taken 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 civilise, and not to in­sti­gate ha­tred.

Mean­while, Chair­man of Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika 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.

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