The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Activism and Support - the two pillars that define MGRM

Tuesday, 10 September 2019, 10:02 Last update: about 9 days ago

Colette Farrugia Bennett

In these last 18 years, MGRM has been consistently present in society and persistently voiced the often less heard narratives of the LGBTIQ community through the organisation’s work and participation in Malta’s yearly Pride march.

MGRM’s two main pillars have always been that of advocacy and providing support to the LGBTIQ community, and thus, Pride has been one of the platforms to increase visibility of the needs of this community, as well as making a political statement to demand rights for the protection and equality for LGBTIQ individuals and families. In 2019, we have come a long way from the starting point of MGRM and the legal and social reality in Malta back in 2001. We have seen several developments on the legal front, and we were also involved in the development of a number of policy changes that continue to recognise and address the needs and rights of LGBTIQ children, youth and adults in various sectors, including education and correctional facilities. We take pride in the achievements that Malta has attained and continue to aspire for a society that is inclusive of all, irrespective of one’s gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and sex characteristics, amongst others.

Thus, our work continues to be guided by MGRM’s mission statement and aims to “achieve full equality for LGBTIQ people in Maltese society; a society that enables people to live openly and fully without fear of discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics”. MGRM’s second pillar is to provide professional support to the LGBTIQ community and their families, and since 2013 when the Rainbow Support Service was launched, several services have been offered. The Rainbow Support Service was born while a colleague and I were students aspiring to become social workers, and after several years following our graduation, we finally sat down and wrote a proposal to MGRM.

The organisation always offered support services to the community and in fact, several members were provided with the necessary support through the volunteer professionals we worked with. Despite this, the Rainbow Support Service was able to give the professional support within a structure and consistency through contracting professional social workers and therapists, as necessary for the service users. It also provides training and consultation to other professionals, including educators.

The Rainbow Support Service also provides various safe social spaces through a number of activities aimed at different groupings within the community both in Malta and Gozo. Together with the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the Rainbow Families Network was created to provide supportive and safe spaces for same-sex families with children, parents who have trans and gender variant children and youth, as well as trans and gender variant adults and their significant others. 

Another aspect of the support provided to the community includes the raising of awareness on HIV status and advocating for up-to-date, appropriate and accessible medical care. Just this month, MGRM launched its new HIV Malta campaign and website  HIV Malta’s objectives are to destigmatise HIV, start a conversation on the subject by making information easily accessible, promote the importance of mental wellbeing, and ensure that there is an ongoing commitment to make newly developed HIV medication including that which is preventive, available without any further delay. In addition to this, MGRM will be announcing several projects, including a new messaging campaign on dating apps, and other specific projects within different sectors of the community.

Our work does not stop with the laws that were passed and the fact that Malta ranks first on the ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Map for the last few years. MGRM volunteers and professional staff of the Rainbow Support Service continue to work tirelessly to support the LGBTIQ community and in raising awareness on the specific issues faced by this community for as long as it takes until inclusion and respect for diversity is an everyday reality.

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: 79430006


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