A new government initiative which was intended to aid the LGBTIQ+ community in finding safe places around Malta to spend their time has been met with anger and disapproval from the public, who did not see the initiative in the same way that Equality Minister Helena Dalli probably wanted it to be seen.
The #Allwelcome or #IlkollMerħba initiative states that businesses in the hospitality sector can apply for a special logo which shows that they are LGBTIQ+ friendly, after they attend an information session of the topic.
When news of the initiative made it to popular Facebook forum The Salott, many people took to the comments section to express their opinions
A lot of the arguments against this say that businesses shouldn’t need a sign to say they follow the law, since, for those who don’t know, withholding goods and services because of someone’s sexual identity is illegal. Meanwhile, others said that the sign is discriminatory and promotes segregation.
Another reason people were displeased with this project was because they felt like the logo was immediately labelling people, despite the very public efforts from LGBTIQ+ activists to remove the need for labels for anyone.
Many people commented on how, perhaps without even knowing, the people pushing for this idea had put members of the LGBTIQ+ community into an inhumane box, with many comparing the shopfront sign to “Pets Allowed” stickers. “If I was gay I would be offended,” one person commented. “I appreciate the effort to tell everyone that Malta is LGBTIQ friendly but emphasising it is simply stating that previously we were not.”
(Note: All names and profile pictures have been edited out to protect their identities in what is a controversial topic)
One person who defended the initiative said the logo would show LGBTIQ+ people that certain places wouldn’t accept discrimination from their other patrons (which they shouldn’t do anyway).
“If this offends you, you obviously weren’t bullied badly enough as a youngster,” another person commented. “Those in our community who isolate themselves for fear of being different would no doubt welcome the initiative. Obviously, there is ridiculousness to the idea, but why not think of others? Having safe spaces is key to comfort in ourselves, and knowing we can enter somewhere that actively and outwardly promotes their advocation for inclusion is a lot better than entering somewhere think you’re fine because “we’ve come a long way” and having that ONE incident happen to you.”
However, they brought up a new issue; the “all welcome” concept should also include people from different ethnicities and races or people with disabilities, which they believe are more serious issues to be targeting, especially in such an LGBTIQ+ friendly country like ours.
Many people also took to their personal Facebook pages to express their disapproval of the governments new policy
“Thank you Helena Dalli, for putting the LGBTIQ in line with animals,” one person wrote.
“Give me a second to appreciate how included we are by clearly implying a difference between the LGBTIQ and the rest of the human population.”
Not everyone was mad at this though, with some people saying the initiative moved past following the law and that it’s good to show support and inclusion in any way.
One of the responses under their comment did say they’d have preferred inclusion to come in different forms, such as a pride flag outside the premises.