The Malta Gay Rights Movement said the Maltese bishops' argument on homosexuality is a recycled one: "Love and respect" homosexuals but their homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered" and it "goes against natural moral law" and against "God's plan for marriage and the family".

The movement said the bishops try to give the impression that what they say holds a certain undeniable truth but Malta's recent history and the actions of the Church on some occasions showed how far from the truth this is.

It said the bishops' statement also holds a very generous dose of contradictions. They say that homosexuality is unnatural and that all the major cultures of the world accept that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, only to say later on that homosexuality has been present for centuries and in different cultures. They say that Church teaching on the subject is unanimously shared and, yet, they showed no hesitation in muzzling members of the clergy who dared to speak out against it, the movement added.

The bishops urge everyone to show "love" towards homosexuals "and, yet, the love they advocate is devoid of any respect for the dignity, identity and diversity of homosexual persons".

If the Church means what it says it should be the first to set an example by, among other things, denouncing the fact that gay and lesbian teachers still do not feel safe enough to come out, bullying still goes on and children at schools are not taught about the full range of sexualities that exist in the world, the movement said.

It added that in their statement, the bishops also refer to homosexuality as a "social phenomenon". But, the movement said, homosexuals are no "phenomenon" as they are people of flesh and blood who feel the need to love and be loved back. Referring to them as a "phenomenon" only dehumanises them, the movement said.

It argued that by saying that traditional marriage is under threat from homosexuals only exposes the bishops' willingness to use homosexuals as scapegoats. No heterosexual couple stays together or separates depending on whether same sex couples are granted legal recognition or not. On the contrary, heterosexuals surely need no help in breaking down marriage, with spiralling cases of separation in Maltese law courts.

"It is not homosexuality which is troubling or which should cause concern... It is the homophobic environment we grow up in that creates and generates suffering in our lives. Were society to embrace a gay affirmative approach, much of our troubles would cease to exist," the movement said.

Luckily, nowadays homosexuals are increasingly showing more courage in living out their identities as full human beings and this is allowing society to realise that the love that exists within a same sex couple is no different, in terms of love and commitment, to that between a man and a woman, the movement said.

"Whereas the bishops have the right to profess whatever beliefs they hold, even if these are incorrect and out of touch with reality, they cannot expect to impose these beliefs on the rest of us. Homosexuals give their contribution to our society as much as heterosexuals do and the state is in duty bound to respect and safeguard their diversity and their families. Particularly in the private and sexual sphere of our adult lives, the state should refrain from attempts at social engineering and, on the contrary, should legislate in favour of facilitating everyone's pursuit of happiness," the movement said.

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