The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Government building to serve as community centre for LGBTIQ+ people and their families

Saturday, 22 June 2024, 11:25 Last update: about 25 days ago

Restoration and renovation works will begin on a government building in Old Bakery Street, Valletta for it to serve as a community centre for LGBTIQ+ people and their families. This community centre will provide psychosocial services.

This centre will offer many services under this single roof, including emotional and psychological help with counselling and therapy services to assist individuals facing emotional and mental challenges, health services such as a Gender Wellbeing Clinic provided by both the State and NGOs in the sector.

The centre will also serve to address cases of discrimination by offering counselling services and psychosocial support. Moreover, the centre shall seek to promote equality through awareness and educational campaigns that will centre around bringing about positive change against stereotypical mindsets that may still persist. The centre will also provide access to resources and learning opportunities through a specialised library.

The purpose of this project is to strengthen social inclusion by providing a space where LGBTIQ+ people can meet, interact and support each other with the aim of contributing to a more coherent and inclusive society. Another aim of the centre is to serve as support for families via information sessions for parents to better understand and accept their children's identity.

This was announced by the Minister for Lands and the Implementation of the Electoral Programme, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, alongside the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms, Rebecca Buttigieg, during a press conference announcing how this project will be carried out through public investment. They also said that the aim of this project is to continue making more strides towards equality.

Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi said that thanks to the transfer of this building, another electoral promise made to the LGBTIQ+ community will be fulfilled. The minister also explained how the Lands Authority is carrying out an “important exercise” by which work can be done on government buildings that can be of use to communities, so that these buildings can “regain their life back.”

“The value of a building is not only determined from the financial point of view, but it also depends on how we use it,” he said, “Therefore I am convinced that this transfer will not only be a great contribution to the LGBTIQ+ community, but also to society in general.”

The minister concluded by saying that the Lands Authority will continue to work with various NGOs and Local Councils to identify more sites that can be better utilised for the better of society.

Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg said that this centre will be another link in a chain that should continue to bring the LGBTIQ+ community closer to equality while strengthening respect for human rights for queer people.

She added that while significant steps have been taken in this area over the last decade, certain prejudices and discriminations against LGBTIQ+ persons persist – even though Malta has been ranked atop European indexes on equality for the last nine years straight.

“The revolution in civil rights that took place during the last ten years clearly shows the significant steps that the Maltese have taken to overcome the prejudices that existed against the LGBTIQ+ community, however there is still more to be done and the Government is committed to fostering a more egalitarian mentality and culture so that every individual is treated with respect and dignity,” Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg said.

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