The Ministry for European Affairs and Equality has condemned comments made by an X Factor contestant promoting gay conversion therapy in a positive manner.
“In light of an audition of a contestant that was shown on the programme X Factor Malta yesterday, the government reiterates that Maltese law stipulates all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions of each Maltese person is a valid one and that none of them require to be changed or suppressed,” they said in a statement.
“While the government condemns every homophobic comment of this type,” they continued, “it is a fact that the broadcasting of this message without any comment on the damage of so-called “conversion therapy” can cause a lot of damage and puts vulnerable teenagers who are at risk of this practice that Malta adopted strict laws on in 2016.”
“LGBTIQ people do not need any type of cure or forgiveness simply because of that which forms an integral part of their personality. One’s sexual orientation is not a lifestyle, but someone that each person manifests,” they ended their statement.
They said that any youth who is coming out, or anyone who might be struggling or finding difficulties, can call for help on 22263225.
Their condemnation comes just hours after the X Factor Malta team officially apologised
“We would like to make it very clear that no part of Matthew Grech’s original audition was intended to cause offence, nor were the views expressed those of the producers of the programme. Our focus is the talent and the music, and we wouldn’t ever want anything to get in the way of that,” they said.
Their apology comes after an X Factor contestant, Matthew Grech, talked about his personal beliefs in regards to love, marriage, and religion. As a River of Love member, he said that any marriage other than that between a man and a woman was “a sin”.
Silvan Agius, the director of the Human Rights and Integration Directorate, called Matthew Grech’s comments “problematic”
“This was not something that happened randomly in a live show,” Agius told Lovin Malta. “This was edited, it was known to the editorial team, they created a whole thing so as to portray it well. There were shots of the environment, of the bastions, somewhere indoors with a McDonald’s logo and so on.”
“The message that went out was that this is a normal thing to do, when what was actually being discussed is greatly harmful, often with long term adverse effects, and illegal in Malta,” he continued.
Malta made Conversion Therapy illegal in 2016, a legislative change that Mr Agius himself was involved in.
Pictured: Silvan Agius
However, Agius confirmed that Matthew Grech had not broken any laws since he wasn’t directly promoting the therapy
“In a way, the producers were careful in their presentation so as not to take the blame,” Agius told Lovin Malta. “Still, what happened was in very bad taste, and it is problematic because this can suppress the coming out of LGBTIQ youths.”
“It won’t affect those like me who have been out for many years, we won’t go back into the closet,” he added, “but LGBTIQ youths will suffer as a result of this. Additionally, some parents who question the orientation of their children may feel empowered when seeing this.”
He rejected any idea that Grech may not have realised what he was saying as this message was previously presented in other TV shows.
Joanna Spiteri, the Broadcasting Authority Chief Executive, said that they were not in a hurry to punish the TVM show
“The Broadcasting Authority doesn’t just shoot sentences, and even less so does it feel the weight of pressure and the hurrying up that occurs from the media and other quarters. The law isn’t applied according to sentiment and popular reaction.”
“The Broadcasting Authority takes into consideration with the highest seriousness every complaint that it receives through the established procedures, or that are found through its own monitoring, and evaluates them with accuracy and reflection given to it through the Broadcasting Act, subsidiary legislation, the right to freedom of expression, and consumer’s rights, and will dedicate the appropriate time without any reservations.
“In this specific case, as in other cases, it would be good for the questions to be sent in the direction of the broadcasting station since they decided to broadcast the show prior to the show being aired and decided that the content was fine.”