Com­ing out, pub­licly – lgb­tiqX

Free speech also counts for speech that you hate and not just for speech that you like. Free­dom of choice ex­ists for those who want to make hard choices and not just those who take the easy way.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Ivan Grech Mintoff

Sup­port­ing free­dom of speech, free­dom of choice and tol­er­ance is there­fore not al­ways easy to do. The right to free speech was not cre­ated to en­sure that only those who hold fash­ion­able views and agree with the gov­ern­ment can ex­press them­selves. Free­dom of speech was es­tab­lished to en­sure that the views de­spised by the trendy opin­ion lead­ers and gov­ern­ment min­is­ters can also be spo­ken about with­out fear of reper­cus­sions. If be­ing an ad­vo­cate of free speech means any­thing, it means that you are will­ing to de­fend the right of all to ex­press all views that you don’t hold and and don’t like.

Like­wise, free­dom of choice ex­ists to en­sure the in­di­vid­ual’s right to make unpopular and con­tro­ver­sial choices. In the last two weeks, we have seen how the Min­is­ter of Equal­ity and the Malta Gay Rights Move­ment (MGRM) have tried to si­lence and de­stroy a ho­mo­sex­ual par­tic­i­pant in a tal­ent show, Matthew Grech, for hav­ing the temer­ity to make the un­usual choice of ab­stain­ing from sex and ex­press­ing his choice on TV.

Their ac­tion is wrong. Matthew Grech has not jeop­ar­dised pub­lic safety or mo­rals, en­dan­gered pub­lic order, cre­ated any health haz­ards or harmed any­one or taken away any­one’s rights. He has sim­ply used his free­dom to make an un­usual choice and to ex­press his be­liefs re­gard­ing that choice.

I main­tain the Chris­tian view on mar­riage as an in­sti­tu­tion, or­dained by God, to be the life­long union be­tween one man as hus­band and one woman as wife. But I will also de­fend the rights of those who hold other views on mar­riage to ex­press their be­liefs. I want ho­mo­sex­u­als who be­lieve in mar­riage be­tween peo­ple of the same sex to have the same free­dom of speech as those ho­mo­sex­u­als who think that ho­mo­sex­ual acts are sin­ful.

Be­ing ‘pro-choice’, I be­lieve that adults have the right to choose to en­gage in sex and the right to ab­stain from sex. They have the right to choose to cel­e­brate their sex­ual iden­tity/ori­en­ta­tion and they must al­ways be free to seek ther­apy for un­wanted de­sires if their present state makes them un­happy or anx­ious.

With the Matthew Grech case, we have seen the MGRM’s ab­so­lute dis­re­gard for any choice that they dis­ap­prove of. They dis­re­garded the right to ex­press views that run counter to their agenda. Sadly, the Min­is­ter of Equal­ity He­lena Dalli shares their agenda and is also will­ing to crush any­one who pub­licly con­tra­dicts their com­mon ide­ol­ogy.

Very few vot­ers sup­port their agenda. That they want to dis­re­gard the views of the ma­jor­ity and push their agenda on the coun­try by any means is now beyond doubt af­ter the re­cent re­lease of a spe­cific video. Min­is­ter He­lena Dalli is shown at an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on LGBTIQ rights in which she is heard say­ing:

“In 2014, there was a poll which showed that 80 per cent were not in favour [of civil unions]… You know elec­toral pro­grammes, it’s a pack­age, and they [the vot­ers] didn’t re­alise be­cause we just put in ‘equal­ity’.” [laugh­ter] “It’s a ma­jor pil­lar for this gov­ern­ment, you know… will forge ahead any­way.”

Thus, the Min­is­ter openly ad­mits that vot­ers were then pur­posely mis­led and unashamedly mocks those who did not re­alise her real in­ten­tions.

It is not strange, then, that they re­serve their great­est ha­tred for those who hold to ex­plic­itly Chris­tian be­liefs. The rea­son is that Chris­tian­ity is a be­lief sys­tem that is fo­cused on stand­ing by your be­liefs and telling the truth and it does not ac­cept any­thing that is im­posed on us by trick­ery.

I was not ex­pect­ing many to share my sen­ti­ments and stand when we aired Ex­o­dus pro­grammes in this re­gard. In the pro­grammes, I took the Min­is­ter and the MGRM to task for ig­nor­ing hu­man rights and break­ing the law in their ex­ag­ger­ated zeal to crush a Chris­tian con­tes­tant sim­ply be­cause he made a choice and ex­pressed his views. But the re­ac­tion to the pro­gramme proved me wrong. The Mal­tese pop­u­la­tion are fed up with at­tempts to cen­sor and si­lence the ma­jor­ity and to whip us into in­ac­tion and sub­mis­sion by an ex­trem­ist and dan­ger­ous mi­nor­ity who pre­tend to cham­pion the gay com­mu­nity but who are ac­tu­ally do­ing it much harm. A del­uge of view­ers agreed that the Min­is­ter and the MGRM had gone way beyond the bounds of de­cency with their vit­ri­olic at­tacks on Matthew Grech.

Ob­vi­ously, both the Min­is­ter and the MGRM also have the right to ex­er­cise their free­dom of speech. But free­dom of speech is not with­out its lim­its and does not al­low li­bel­lous slan­der, as demon­strated by their state­ments re­gard­ing Matthew Grech. They just can­not say that his com­ments were ‘ho­mo­pho­bic’ or ‘ad­ver­tised gen­der ther­apy’ when, clearly, they were nei­ther ho­mo­pho­bic nor an ad­vert. Their com­ments were ma­li­cious, defam­a­tory and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

In the pro­gramme, we promised to take le­gal ac­tion against the Min­ster and the MGRM if they did not apol­o­gise and re­tract their very harm­ful state­ments. Many le­gal minds made con­tact and con­firmed our think­ing, some of­fer­ing – vol­un­tar­ily and at no charge – le­gal point­ers re­gard­ing how those state­ments breached Mal­tese law.

En­cour­aged by pub­lic sup­port, our re­solve has strength­ened. Within the next two weeks we will be tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against the Min­is­ter and the MGRM in order for this il­le­gal bul­ly­ing to stop once and for all.

Matthew Grech’s rights must be re­stored com­pletely. Our rights must be re­stored com­pletely and this prac­tice of in­still­ing fear must cease, which is what this fight for real equal­ity is truly all about.

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