The celebratory atmosphere of the second annual Pride March in Gozo was marred by an unsettling incident of aggression and violence, causing significant distress within the LGBTI+ community.
The event saw hundreds gather in Victoria, Gozo, to celebrate acceptance, diversity, and love.
As day transitioned to night, reports emerged of a group of queer individuals who had departed from the Gozo Pride Concert and faced verbal abuse as they approached a local bar. The confrontation escalated, resulting in a physical attack on one individual.
Such an incident underscores the profound challenges that the LGBTI+ community continues to face, even in the midst of celebrations that honour their identity and rights.
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Reacting to the incident, prominent community organisation LGBTI+ Gozo expressed a deep sadness and condemnation of this act of hate.
“We cannot stand idly by while members of our society are attacked and assaulted just for being themselves,” a statement issued earlier said. “We cannot celebrate Pride and do nothing while LGBTI+ people in Gozo and Malta experience discrimination, stigma, and violence just for occupying space.”
“We cannot call ourselves the most LGBTI+-friendly country in Europe while queer Gozitans are assaulted while trying to respectfully and courteously enjoy their Pride celebration. Inaction and indifference empower perpetrators of violence and aggression, and it is our duty as part of a global community to take action against inequality, hatred, and bigotry.”
Their message emphasised the importance of creating a society where everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can coexist without the fear of judgment, aggression, or violence.
“Experiencing, witnessing, and internalising acts of LGBTI+ violence such as this takes a tremendous toll on the individual, and LGBTI+ Gozo knows that reporting homophobic attacks is not an easy process,” the statement continued. “We urge our queer community to take care of their mental and physical health, to reach out to psychosocial services and their social communities, and to contact LGBTI+ NGOs for guidance and support.”
Meanwhile, LGBTI+ activist group MGRM prepared a guide on hate speech and hate crimes “that details how to report and who to reach out to, and we urge everyone to familiarise themselves with this procedure”, LGBTI+ Gozo continued.
“While Pride is a beautiful time of celebration and love, we must also protect ourselves and our community. LGBTI+ Gozo thanks and supports the people who reported this act of hate violence and the victim of this attack for their resilience and bravery in speaking out,” the statement finished. “Reporting homophobia and supporting victims and witnesses gives others the courage to take action against their perpetrators.”
Despite Malta’s reputation as one of the most LGBTI+-friendly countries in Europe, this incident serves as a grim reminder that hatred still exists. A singular act of aggression has the potential to unravel the fabric of acceptance and unity, highlighting the persistent need for awareness, education, and advocacy.
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