A company’s Valentine’s Day advert that became the target of homophobic comments has shed light on small pockets of homophobia in Malta, a leading gay rights campaigner has said.
Top Choice’s advert for a beard trimmer showcased two men embracing each other, prompting some to take to the comment section to express their hateful homophobic sentiments at the message behind the post.
While many defended the company for publishing the inclusive advert, the LGBTIQ+ voluntary organisation Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) used this opportunity to shed light on the pockets of homophobia that exist in Maltese society.
“Malta imports workers from all over the world and there are a number of expats who come from countries where being homophobic is condoned,” ARC’s Community Manager, Clayton Mercieca, told Lovin Malta.
“Although Malta’s laws are advanced in terms of LGBTIQ+ equality, it does not guarantee safety for individuals living here, especially when you have concentrated communities in certain areas that don’t really integrate with Malta’s ways of living and retain the same homophobia that their country has.”
According to ARC, the majority of those who made homophobic comments on the article originated from countries with a track record of state-sponsored homophobia “or lack of recognition and visibility towards LGBTIQ+ individuals.”
Moreover, these communities allegedly make it difficult for LGBTIQ+ individuals migrating to Malta for a better life to integrate into society.
“LGBTIQ+ communities coming from these countries looking for a better life end up in the same homophobic social sphere,” Mercieca continued.
“For Malta to retain its reputation as a LGBTIQ+ destination, we need to ensure that we don’t overlook people who come with a certain bias and a certain baggage. Employers need to ensure that the people they bring over are trained and educated,” he said.
Another Valentine’s Day advert uploaded by Top Choice depicted a lesbian couple, but the post received far less negative feedback.
“The lesbian advert didn’t attract any attention. However, masculinity always triggers a sense of shame and mockery,” Mercieca ended.
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