Europe’s capital of culture was turned into a tapestry of colour on Saturday afternoon as Malta celebrated its LGBTIQ members during its annual Pride parade.
People young and old made it to Tritons Fountain at 4.30pm for the start of the event, which will see people - and floats - parade through Valletta before making their way to Herbert Ganado gardens for a free open-air concert.
Saturday’s Pride parade is the culmination of a week’s worth of activities celebrating the LGBTIQ community, and the second since Malta passed a marriage equality bill into law.
Official buildings flew rainbow flags to mark the occasion. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia joined a host of NGOs, activists and civilians, with many dressed up for the occasion.
The parade filed past a banner honouring murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as it made its way past the Great Siege monument on Republic Street. Activists had attached the banner to hoarding covering the monument for a second time just minutes prior, having previously been removed by government workers.
Earlier, Equality Minister Helena Dalli tweeted a photo of the Labour Party’s parliamentary group celebrating the event with a rainbow-decorated cake, while Alternattiva Demokratika congratulated Malta’s LGBTIQ community for “their continued fight for respect and equality and for making Malta more diverse, colourful and beautiful”.
Strong, united @PL_Malta team celebrating #equality, #inclusion, #Diversity #diversityisastrength— Helena Dalli (@helenadalli) September 15, 2018
Prime Minister @JosephMuscat_JM cuts @pridemalta cake before we all go to #Valletta for #pride ????march pic.twitter.com/hNRirS5QgV
The party called on the government speed up plans to create a gender clinic specialised in services for trans and non-binary persons. The clinic was first promised in 2015, it noted.
For the first time, the banner of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics formed part of the parade. Local organisation Drachma is a member of the GNRC, and in a statement it called on the Vatican to start a dialogue about changing the language used to describe LGBTIQ in Catholic catechism.
“We urge the Church to be more inclusive and embracing towards LGBTIQ youth, especially in the upcoming Youth Synod, where they should be visible and represented,” Drachma said. It noted that gay priests and other LGBTIQ members of religious orders were forced to live “closeted lives in a shame and anxiety”.
“Church officials should be seeking to address these issues and GNRC (and Drachma) is offering a safe space where this may happen together in trust and a spirit of collaboration,” it said.
Some members of the clergy used the occasion to reach out to members of the LGBTIQ community.
"Know that you're precious, you're cherished, you're welcome.
Just like everyone else," wrote Father Antoine Farrugia.