Gozo will host its first-ever LGBTIQ march on Saturday, as part of events forming part of Malta Pride Week 2022. 

The week-long event, which begins on Friday, makes its return following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

A programme with over 20 events, Malta Pride Week  2022 will run until September 11, with the theme "Live Your Truth". 

Malta Pride Coordinator and Allied Rainbows Communities president Clayton Mercieca said the theme is based on the reality that it remains difficult for many people in the LGBTIQ community to be their true selves.

Pride organiser Clayton Mercieca speaks at Friday's event. Photo: Jonathan BorgPride organiser Clayton Mercieca speaks at Friday's event. Photo: Jonathan Borg

"Some people still ask why we need to celebrate pride and we do so to show how far we have come and to celebrate love and respect," Mercieca said on Friday, at a press conference held to launch Malta Pride Week 2022. 

Saturday's event in Gozo will begin at the Qawsalla Hub in Victoria at 5pm, with participants making their way to Villa Rundle. It will also see a guest speaker from the UK, Patrick Ettenes, talk about LGBTIQ and dementia. 

Malta Pride Week's headline event, a national march, will take place on Saturday, September 10, starting from 5:00pm in front of Castille, Valletta. It will be followed by a free open concert at Triton Square.

Speaking at the Friday press conference, parliamentary secretary for Reforms and Equality Rebecca Buttigieg said the government will not use pride as a "buzzword".

"We cannot take all the progress we have made for granted, and we also marked the beginning of pride week with a step forward, with the removal of the ban prohibiting gay men from donating blood," Buttigieg said.

Earlier this morning, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that gay men can now start donating blood. The government had first announced that the ban was lifted in 2019. It remains unclear what caused the delay. 

Malta will host Europride 2023, Europe's biggest gay pride event, next year. The European event was due to be held in Belgrade, Serbia this year, but was cancelled by the government just weeks before it was scheduled to begin. 

The full programme of events for Malta Pride Week 2022 is available on the website www.maltapride.org

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