Pluraliżmu anke fil-valuri

Wieħed mill-argumenti qawwija li lewnu d-dibattitu dwar id-dħul ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja kien li Malta ħtieġilha tidħol fis-seklu għoxrin qabel ma taħseb biex tissieħeb fl-Unjoni. Kien argumentat li kien hemm il-ħtieġa ta’ progress fuq ħafna fronti qabel ma Malta setgħet tissieħeb fl-UE. In-naħa l-oħra tal-argument, ovvjament, dejjem kien li s-sħubija minnha innifisha setgħet tkun il-katalist għat-tibdil tant meħtieġ fis-soċjetá Maltija. Għax il-bidla tista’ ddum biex isseħħ, imma fl-aħħar mhux possibli li tkun evitata. Kif jgħidu, tardare sí, scappare no!

Malta ssieħbet fl-UE fl-2004. Il-bidla fis-soċjetá Maltija għadha għaddejja, kultant b’ritmu mgħaġġel ħafna. Ir-referendum dwar id-divorzju li sar f’Mejju 2011 ħoloq terrimot, li, nistgħu ngħidu illi għadu għaddej.

Il-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ li l-Parliament approva iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kienet pass ieħor f’din id-direzzjoni. Kienet deskritta bħala “immorali” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxista” (Clyde Puli), “kommunista” (Herman Schiavone) kif ukoll “tal-Korea ta’ Fuq ” (Tonio Fenech).

Dawn it-tikketti juru kif jaħdem moħħ dawk li qed jirreżistu din il-bidla. Mid-dehra ħadd minn dawn il-kritiċi tal-leġislazzjoni dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieg ma fehem li dan il-pass kien ukoll il-konsegwenza loġika tal-emenda kostituzzjonali, approvata mill-Parlament fil-leġislatura l-oħra liema emenda kienet iċċarat li d-diskriminazzjoni minħabba l-ġeneru kienet ipprojibita ukoll. L-intolleranti fost l-Insara fostna jgħidu li dawk li jappoġġaw l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huma “bla valuri”. Dawn għadhom ma irrealizzawx li l-valuri tagħhom m’humiex l-unika valuri. Qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri. Ħadd m’għandu monopolju, la dwar il-valuri u l-anqas dwar dak li hu tajjeb jew ħażin.

Uħud mill-kelliema ewlenin tal-Opposizzjoni, minkejja li ddikjaraw l-appoġġ għal-liġi taħt konsiderazzjoni, xorta dehrilhom li kellhom jużaw il-ħin ta’ diskorshom bi kliem dispreġġattiv dwar dak propost. Dan il-lingwaġġ mimli insulti użat fid-dibattitu parlamentari sfortunatament jirrifletti fuq l-Opposizzjoni Nazzjonalista kollha, anke fuq dawk li għamlu sforz ġenwin u qagħdu attenti li jużaw  lingwaġġ konċiljattiv biex jikkomunikaw ħsiebijiethom.

L-opposizzjoni konservattiva qegħda fir-rokna. Min-naħa l-waħda riedet tħabbar mal-erbat irjieħ tal-pajjiż li issa kkonvertiet u ser tkun fuq quddiem biex tiddefendi d-drittijiet tal-komunitá LGBTIQ. Min-naħa l-oħra iżda, l-Opposizzjoni ma setgħetx tinjora l-fatt li għad għandha dipendenza qawwija fuq appoġġ minn l-agħar elementi ta’ intolleranza reliġjuża fil-pajjiż, dawk jiġifieri li għadhom iqiesu d-drittijiet LGBTIQ bħal materja ta’ “immoralitá pubblika”.  Edwin Vassallo kien l-iktar wieħed ċar fi kliemu meta iddikjara li l-kuxjenza tiegħu ma tippermettilux li jivvota favur dak li huwa ddeskriva bħala proposta leġislattiva “immorali”.

Fi ftit sekondi Vassallo (u oħrajn) ħarbat dak li kien ilu jippjana Simon Busuttil sa minn meta kien elett Kap tal-PN.  Dan wassal lil uħud biex jispekulaw dwar jekk l-Insara intolleranti, id-demokristjani u l-liberali fil-PN jistgħux jibqgħu jikkoabitaw wisq iktar.

Dan kollu jikkuntrasta mal-mod kif ġiebu ruħhom il-konservattivi fil-Partit Laburista. Dawn, minħabba kalkuli politiċi, ippreferew li jew jibqgħu ħalqhom magħluq inkella qagħdu attenti ħafna dwar dak li qalu. Jidher li tgħallmu xi ħaġa mid-dibattitu dwar id-divorzju!

L-approvazzjoni mill-Parliament tal-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huwa pass ieħor il-quddiem favur il-pluraliżmu tal-valuri. Il-Parlament aċċetta l-pluraliżmu tal-valuri u iddeċieda li kulħadd jixraqlu r-rispett. Għandna bżonn nifhmu, lkoll kemm aħna, li qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri li lkoll jixirqilhom ir-rispett. Hu possibli li ma naqblux, imma li ninsulentaw lil xulxin minħabba li nħaddnu valuri differenti ma jagħmilx sens. Xejn m’hu ser jibdel il-fatt li ħadd ma għandu monoplju fuq il-valuri li f’numru ta’ każi jikkontrastaw.

Malta illum introduċiet l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ. M’aħniex ser indumu biex nindunaw li dan ser jagħmel lis-soċjetá tagħna waħda aħjar, għal kulħadd.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 16 ta’ Lulju 2017

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Value Pluralism

One of the arguments made during the debate prior to Malta joining the European Union was that before it did so, Malta should open its doors to the 21st century. It was argued that much progress needed to be made before Malta could join the EU. The flip side of this argument was that EU membership could be the right catalyst for change that Maltese society needed, because change can be obstructed and delayed but, in the long term, it cannot be stopped.

Malta did join the EU in 2004 and the opening of the doors (and windows) of change is currently work-in-progress. The divorce referendum held in May 2011 opened the floodgates to a recognition of the fact that Maltese society was in a state of rapid change, making up for lost time.

The Marriage Equality Reform legislation approved in Parliament earlier this week was another step. It was described as “immoral” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxist” (Clyde Puli), “communist” (Herman Schiavone) or even “North Korean” (Tonio Fenech).

These labels identify the frame of mind of those resisting change. Apparently, none of these critics of marriage equality legislation has yet realised that this step is the direct legal consequence of the Constitutional amendment, approved by Parliament some years back, which spelled out in unequivocal terms the prohibition of discrimination based on gender.

The intolerant Christian right argues that legislation proposing marriage equality is the result of a society which has lost its values. They have not realised that their “values” are not the only ones around: we live in a society where a plurality of values is a fact. The Christian right has no monopoly: either on values or on what is right or wrong.

A number of leading Opposition spokespersons, notwithstanding their declaration of support for the proposed legislation, deemed it fit to hurl never-ending insults against the proposals being debated and all that these represented. This insulting language used during the parliamentary debate is a sad reflection on the whole of the PN Opposition, even on those who sought to apply the brakes and in fact used more conciliatory language to convey their thoughts.

The conservative opposition is in a tight corner. On the one hand it wanted to announce in unequivocal terms its recent “conversion” to championing LGBTIQ rights. At the same time the Opposition could not ignore the fact that it is still chained to an intolerant Christian right which labels LGBTIQ rights as morally reprehensible. Edwin Vassallo was the most unequivocal when he declared that his conscience would not permit him to vote in favour of what he described as an “immoral” legislative proposal.

In a couple of seconds, Vassallo and others blew up what had been carefully constructed by Simon Busuttil since assuming the PN leadership, causing some to speculate whether the cohabitation of the conservative Christian right, Christian Democrats and liberals in the PN can last much longer.

In contrast, even if for political expediency, the conservatives in the Labour Party parliamentary group have either kept their mouth shut or else watched their language. It seems that they have learnt some lessons from the divorce referendum debate.

Parliament’s approval last Wednesday of the Marriage Equality Legislation is another step in entrenching the acceptance of value pluralism. Parliament has accepted value pluralism and decided that it was time to respect everyone.

We need to realise that we form part of a society with a plurality of values, all of which deserve the utmost respect. It is possible to disagree, but insulting people because they have different values than one’s own is not on. A society with a plurality of values is a fact and nobody will or can change that.

Malta has now introduced marriage equality. As a result, our society will show a marked improvement that will have a positive impact on all of us.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 16 July 2017

Is-siġġijiet tal-PN u l-proporzjonalitá

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Il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali tat deċiżjoni dwar l-ilment kostituzzjonali tal-PN u iddeċidiet illi l-PN għandu jingħata żewġ siġġijiet addizzjonali fil-Parlament. Din hi d-deċiżjoni finali tal-Qrati Maltin dwar il-każ, u allura issa ser tkun implimentata.

Hi deċiżjoni li jixirqiha kull rispett, imma dan ir-rispett ma jfissirx li hi deċiżjoni tajba, għax fil-fatt hi deċiżjoni żbaljata. Għax ma kellhomx jiżdiedu s-siġġijiet, imma kellhom jitnaqqsu! Il-calculator tal-Prim Imħallef ħa żball. Kulħadd jista jiżbalja, mhux hekk?

Ovvjament il-Partit Nazzjonalista bħalissa qiegħed jippontifika dwar il-proporzjonalitá bejn voti miksuba u siġġijiet mirbuħa fil-Parlament. Peró l-proporzjonalitá li jemmen fiha l-PN hi dik bejn il-PN u l-Labour. Din wasslet biex għal żball ta’ ħamsin vot il-PN jippretendi żewġ siġġijiet Parlamentari, imma fl-istess ħin il-5506 vot fl-ewwel għadd ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika fl-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali huma injorati.

Sewwa, 50 vot, skond il-PN, jixirqilhom rappresentanza imma 5506 vot għandhom ikunu injorati.

Ser ikun hemm min iwieġibni u jgħidli: jekk Alternattiva Demokratika jidhriha xi ħaġa messha tmur il-Qorti hi ukoll. It-tweġiba tiegħi hi waħda ċara: Alternattiva Demokratika diġá għandha parir legali li meta l-Kostituzzjoni ta’ Malta tipprovdi għal proporzjonalitá unikament għal żewġ partiti u tinjora lil bqija din qegħda tiddiskrimina.

Nafu li għandna raġun.

Il-problema hi biss li l-establishment jaħsibha mod ieħor. Meta jidhrilna li jkun il-mument opportun, nieħdu l-passi neċessarji.

Tnissil assistit

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L-Ministeru tas-Saħħa ħareġ sejħa għall-offerti biex ikun jista’ jimplimenta l-liġi tal-IVF. Jew biex nitkellmu bil-Malti biex min ma jistax inissel l-ulied b’mod naturali jkun assistit biex dan it-tnissil ikun jista’  jsir.

Il-liġi Maltija dwar l-IVF bit-titlu bombastiku ta’ “Att tal-2012 dwar il-Protezzjoni tal-Embrijuni”  kienet approvat mill-Parlament li għadu kif spiċċa. Din il-liġi tirregola t-tnissil assistit u tillimitah għall-koppji miżżewġa kif ukoll għal dawk il-koppji li għalkemm mhux miżżewġa huma f’relazzjoni stabbli.  Il-liġi hi ċara għax fid-definizzjoni ta’ ġenitur prospettiv (artiklu 2 tal-liġi)   titkellem fuq koppja magħmula minn żewġ persuni ta’ sess oppost.

B’mod ċar mela il-liġi tiddiskrimina kontra koppji ta’ l-istess sess u m’hemm l-ebda dubju li attakkata fuq kriterji ta’ drittijiet umani, u preċiżament fuq il-fatt li tiddiskrimina  jkollha tinbidel b’mod li d-diskriminazzjoni li hi parti intrinsika tal-liġi titneħħa.

Li titneħħa d-diskriminazzjoni mill-liġi jkun pass tajjeb. Il-kontroversja iżda m’hiex ser tisparixxi meta titneħħa d-diskriminazzjoni. Għax id-diskriminazzjoni jkollha titneħħa f’data mhux il-bogħod. Imma mbagħad ikun meħtieġ li niffaċċjaw diversi materji ta’ kontroversja relatata. Irridu nibdew naħsbu dwarhom.

 Kif għandha tkun regolata d-donazzjoni taż-żerriegħa tar-raġel jew tal-bajda tal-mara ? Direttament bejn il-partijiet konċernati b’mod li tista’ tagħti lok għal abbuż?  Permezz ta’ bank għal dan l-iskop?  Bi ħlas jew bi pjaċir?

Xi drittijiet għandu jkollhom il-ġenituri bioloġiċi? Jiena naħseb li l-ġenituri bioloġiċi għandhom jagħtu l-kunsens tagħhom qabel ma jsir it-tnissil fil-laboratorju. Mhux sempliċement jagħtu ż-żerriegħa jew il-bajda. Mhux dan biss. Għandu jkun hemm informazzjoni sħiħa dwar l-identita’ tal-persuni involuti. Mhux informazzjoni pubblika imma informazzjoni li għandha tkun magħrufa bejn il-ġenituri bioloġiċi, l-ġenituri prospettivi u eventwalment l-ulied. M’hemmx lok għal anonimita’. Id-donazzjonijiet taż-żerriegħa tar-raġel u tal-bajda tal-mara jridu jsiru b’mod trasparenti biex kull min ikun involut ikun jaf x’inhu jagħmel u b’hekk jerfa’ sewwa r-responsabbiltajiet tiegħu/tagħha. Dan hu essenzjali l-iktar in konnessjoni ma’ mard ereditarju.  Jiena konxju li dan iwassal għall-argument dwar jekk hux etiku li nagħżlu l-ġenetika tal-ulied għax fil-prattika dan hekk ifisser. Imma din hi l-konsegwenza loġika tal-IVF miftuħa għal kulħadd.  It-tnissil tal-ulied a la carté. Punt li ma jqumx direttament bejn koppji miżżewġin jew koppji f’relazzjoni stabbli.

Hemm imbagħad l-issue tas-surrogate motherhood. Jiġifieri l-ħtieġa li mara tislef jew tikri ġufha biex twelled tarbija li m’hiex tagħha għal ħtieġa ta’ ħaddieħor.  Fil-kuntest wiesa’ tal-applikazzjoni tal-IVF din hi miżura li tista’ tkun meħtiega biex mara jkollha l-ulied (li anke jkunu bioloġikament tagħha) kif ukoll jekk l-IVF tkun tapplika għal koppji tal-istess sess.

Kif għandu jkun regolat dan is-self jew il-kiri tal-ġuf?  Dan mhux sfruttament?  Imma fl-istess ħin mingħajru l-IVF ma tistax tkun verament aċċessibli għal kulħadd.

M’għandix tweġibiet għal dan kollu. F’pajjiżi oħra d-diskussjoni bdiet. S’issa f’Malta ta’ l-inqas fil-pubbliku għad ma bdietx.

L-ebda wieħed mill-partiti politiċi f’Malta għadu ma tkellem fuq dawn l-affarijiet. Għalkemm f’ Alternattiva Demokratika iddiskutejna xi ftit internament is-suġgett l-anqas AD għad ma ħadet posizzjoni. Imma ma nistgħux nibqgħu naħarbu minn dawn l-affarijiet għax l-introduzzjoni tal-IVF ser twassalna inevitabilment biex niffaċċjawhom. Ikun aħjar jekk inkunu ippreparati.

kif ippubblikat fil-blog ta’ iNews it-Tlieta 10 ta’ Settembru 2013

Greening the Constitution

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Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party –  is in agreement that 50 years after its adoption Malta’s Constitution needs to be updated.  However such an exercise, as emphasised in AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto, should be carried out with the direct involvement of civil society. The Constitution belongs to all of us.

There are a number of issues which require careful consideration. In AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto at least fourteen such issues are identified. They vary in scope from electoral reform to widening the issues in respect of which discrimination is prohibited, by including protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. AD also proposes the introduction of a Constitutional provision in favour of a balanced budget, thereby ensuring that government is forced to discard budget deficits and consequently to control the spiralling public debt.

One very important issue is the need to entrench environmental rights and duties in the Constitution. The proposed Constitutional Convention, supported by AD, should aim at Greening the Constitution. That is, it should aim at addressing environmental rights and duties such that they are spelled out in unequivocal terms.  Environmental rights and duties should as a minimum be spelled out as clearly as property rights in the Constitution. They are worthy of protection just as the rights of individual persons.

Article 9 of the Constitution very briefly states that “The State shall safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the nation.”  Further, in article 21 of the Constitution we are informed that this (and other safeguards) “shall not be enforceable in a Court” but that this (safeguard) shall be “fundamental to the governance of the country” and that it shall be the aim of the State to apply it in making laws.

It is not conducive to good governance to first declare adherence to specifc safeguards, but then specifically excluding the Courts from ensuring that such safeguards are being observed.

The strategy of announcing principles but then not providing the legislative framework for their implementation was also taken up in environmental legislation. In fact articles 3 and 4 of the 2010 Environment and Development Planning Act  announce a whole list of sound environmental principles. However  in article 5 of the same Act it is then stated that these cannot be enforced in a Court of Law!

When I had the opportunity of discussing the Environment and Development Planning Bill with Mario de Marco (then Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Tourism and the Environment) I had proposed on behalf of the Greens that the declarations  in articles 3 and 4 of the Bill should not be just guiding principles. They ought to be made enforceable by our Courts subject to the introduction of  a suitable transition. Unfortunately Dr de Marco did not take up the Greens proposal.

As things stand today, article 3 of the Environment and Development Planning Act announces very pompously that the government,  as well as every person in Malta, has the duty to protect the environment. Furthermore it is announced that we are duty bound to assist in the taking of preventive and remedial measures to protect the environment and manage resources in a sustainable manner.

Article 4 goes further:  it  states that government is responsible towards present and future generations.  It then goes on to list ten principles which should guide government in its endeavours.  Integrating environmental concerns in decisions on socio-economic and other policies is first on the list. Addressing pollution and environmental degradation through the implementation of the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle follows immediately after.  Cooperation with other governments and entities enshrines the maxim of “think global, act local” as Malta both affects and is affected by environmental impacts wherever they occur.  The fourth guiding principle is the need to disseminate environmental information whilst the fifth one underlines the need of research as a basic requirement of sound environment policy.  The waste management hierarchy is referred to in the sixth principle followed immediately by underlining the requirement to safeguard biological diversity and combatting all forms of pollution.  Article 4 ends by emphasising that the environment is the common heritage and common concern of mankind and underlines the need to provide incentives leading to a higher level of environmental protection.

Proclaiming guiding principles in our Constitution and environmental legislation is not enough. Our Courts should be empowered in order that they are able to ensure that these principles are actually translated into concrete action.   Government should be compelled to act on the basis of Maltese legislation as otherwise it will only act on environmental issues when and if forced to by the European Union as was evidenced in the past nine years.

Greening the Constitution by extending existing environmental provisions and ensuring that they can be implemented will certainly be one of the objectives of the Greens in the forthcoming Constitutional Convention.

published in the Times of Malta 18 May 2013

Mill-Manifest Elettorali ta’ AD dwar bidliet fil-Kostituzzjoni: (11) Orientazzjoni sesswali

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(11) Orientazzjoni sesswali

Il-projbizzjoni tad-diskriminazzjoni skont is-sess għandha titwessa’ biex tkopri d-diskriminazzjoni skont l-orjentazzjoni sesswali.

 (silta mill-Kapitlu Numru 6 tal-Programm Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika)

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (18) Sexual Orientation. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals (LGBT).

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The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 15 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

Sexual Orientation. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals (LGBT).

There should be full equality between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples in every aspect of life. The state should open the institution of civil marriage to same-sex couples and hence provide the same rights and obligations to all couples (irrespective of whether they are heterosexual or of the same sex).

Full equality should also be guaranteed, among others, for the right to IVF treatment and to adoption regardless of sexual orientation and civil status.

There should be a national human right and equality plan ensuring full inclusion of LGBT persons in Maltese society. This plan should be developed following a dialogue with the Maltese LGBT community.

There should be a constitutional amendment by means of which discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would be prohibited.

The state should immediately recognise the gender identity of persons who have assumed a new gender identity and this should be reflected in the person’s official documents such as identity card and passport. The state should allow these persons to marry.

Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights should be ratified, and Malta should take a more active role in the promotion of human rights of LGBT

L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 15 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Orjentazzjoni Sesswali.Lesbjani, Gays, Bisesswaliu Transesswali (LGBT).

Għandu jkun hemm ugwaljanza sħiħa bejn koppji tal-istess sess u koppji eterosesswali f’kull aspett tal-hajja. L-istat għandu jiftaħ l-istituzzjoni taż-żwieg ċivili għall-koppji tal-istess sess u għaldaqstant jagħti l-istess drittijiet u obbligi lil kull koppja (kemm dawk eterosesswali kif ukoll dawk tal-istess sess).

Ugwaljanza sħiħa ghandha tkun garantita ukoll, fost oħrajn, għad-dritt għall- IVF u għall-adozzjoni, irrispettivament mill-orjentazzjoni sesswali u l-istat ċivili ta’ dak li jkun.

Għandu jkun hemm pjan nazzjonali għat-tisħiħ tad-drittijiet u l-promozzjoni tal-ugwaljanza tal-persuni LGBT f’kull qasam tal-ħajja. Dan il-pjan għandu jiġi żviluppat bi djalogu mal-komunita’ LGBT.

Għandu jkun hemm emenda fil-kostituzzjoni li permezz tagħha d-diskriminazzjoni fuq bażi ta’ orjentazzjoni sesswali u identita’ tal-generu tiġi ipprojbita.

L-istat għandu immedjatament jagħraf l-identita` tal-ġeneru ta’ persuni li jkunu assummew identita’ ġdida u din għandha tkun riflessa fid-dokumenti uffiċjali tal-persuna bħall-karta tal-identita` u l-passaport. L-istat ghandu jippermetti li dawn il-persuni jiżżewġu.

Għandu jiġi ratifikat Protokol 12 tal-Konvenzjoni Ewropea tad-Drittijiet tal-Bniedem u Malta għandha tieħu rwol aktar attiv fil-promozzjoni tad-drittijiet tal-persuni LGBT fuq livell internazzjonali.