A gay rights organisation based in Gozo has condemned a homophobic attack that left one man with injuries to the face and eyes in Sliema.
“LGBTI+ Gozo condemns all forms of homophobia and transphobia in our country and actively fights to end discrimination, stigma and violence against the queer community. The organisation was deeply saddened and distressed by the news of an attack on a gay man in Sliema after being catfished on a popular queer dating site,” the group said.
It was referring to an incident reported by Lovin Malta where a man recounted how he was jumped and beaten by a man who he had met on popular dating app Grindr. The man was subsequently hospitalised and filed a police report over the incident.
“Attacks like these remind us that the country still has a long way to go when it comes to ending violence against queer people.”
“Even though Malta is one of the most progressive countries in Europe, with a ban on gay conversion therapy and the right to equal marriage, queer people still face discrimination and violence in their everyday lives,” the activist group said.
“Homophobia and transphobia are real fears in the life of a queer individual and an act of violence against one is an act of violence against the collective community,” they continued.
While the island’s legal framework has made major strides in the past decade, some parts of society still need to catch up. A survey by MGRM found that half of LGBTI+ respondents felt unsafe in Paceville, with some saying they had been harassed or not let into clubs due to their sexuality.
While LGBTI+ people had one of the lowest reported rate of threat and violence in the European Union – just two cases of harassment were reported in the first half of 2020 – this number goes to show that oftentimes, shame or fear of wider repercussions when it comes to one’s family or career may hold someone back from reporting.
“From discrimination in the workplace to lack of acceptance amongst family and friends, queer people rely on the support of our allies to safeguard our rights and stand up against homophobia and transphobia,” the group said.
“Here at LGBTI+ Gozo, we firmly believe that the help of just one friendly face can mean the difference between life and death for a queer person.”
The group encouraged anyone in Malta or Gozo to stand up to violence against queer people, and provided a contact number for anyone who wants to reach out for support.
“The organization’s call center provides access to counselling and support to all members of the queer community, reachable at 99356622.”
The group ended by urging people to speak and live their truth, and not to let violence silence them.
“Every individual in our country is equal and is deserving of the right to love and be accepted. Love knows no gender and kindness is always key.”
What do you think can be done to minimise attacks in Malta?