The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

The Pride March is about not letting ourselves down

Claudette Buttigieg Monday, 9 September 2019, 09:17 Last update: about 9 days ago

If we let one of us fail, we fail ourselves. That's one lesson life keeps teaching me.

I learned it when I played for my school's volleyball team. I learned it again when performing on stage and presenting TV programmes. It's a lesson I've taken into politics. It should be on everyone's mind on the occasion of the Pride March.

In sport, you win or lose as a team. Even individual sports have a team of specialists behind every player.

On the stage, it's not just the singer that matters. You need an inspired song-writer, composer and band. The quality of your voice depends not just on talent and good teachers but also on the sound engineer. Your presence on stage requires not just personality but also a good costume and lighting.

The same goes for TV, too. The person in front of the camera may take all the glory but the unseen team is what makes or breaks the presenter. In fact, everything depends on teamwork, in families, at schools and at work.

Education is not just a matter of academics. It's also about learning how to share, listen to and understand experience. The modern workplace is based on multi-professional teams, open to global talent. In a market split into diverse niches, public and private organizations need to be able to draw on everyone's experience.

So if there are minorities that feel they cannot be themselves for fear of being bullied or ridiculed or subtly discrimated against – at school, at work or wherever – then it's not just the children or colleagues who are "different" that suffer. We all do.

Our best performances depend on everyone being able to give their best. A society that is complacent about discrimination is letting all sides down.

The Pride March is about remembering all this. It has been six years since I put forward a Constitutional amendment to safeguard sexual orientation as a fundamental freedom. But it's still necessary to say that we need changes not just in laws but also in mentality.

It's not the job of politicians to tell people what to believe. We cannot pass laws to oblige people to love one another. We can and of course should pass laws to protect tolerance of diverse views and lifestyles. But there is more we can do.

We can remember that everyone strives for recognition of their worth. Not being recognised for who we are is a recipe for misery.

If we, as a society, want to give our children the best education they can have, then we must begin by teaching them how to respect and befriend their classmates. Our workplaces need to be places that nurture all human resources. The best team is only as good as its weakest link.

If we fail anyone, we fail ourselves. We can only bring out the best in us by bringing out the best in everyone.

Therefore, for the LGBTQ community, as with other minorities, tolerance is not enough. Let us recognize what makes each of us unique. Awareness of others helps each of us be more self-aware. We shouldn't let ourselves be the kind of society where some people feel they must live a lie or resort to suicide and bodily harm.

That is why, in spite of our laws, it is still important to have Pride Marches. Their main purpose is not about being hip. The carnival atmosphere is there to make sure that diversity is visible in the fog of prejudice. It is about helping everyone actually see the world around them.

It's about recognising the world as it is. To recognise others you must first pay attention to them. Let us do justice to everyone. Then we can all live fuller lives.



Claudette Buttigieg is Deputy Speaker and the PNs equality spokesperson

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