A number of medical associations, the Episcopal Conference, lay Catholic groups, Catholic Voices Malta, representatives of Church schools, the Independent School Association, the Malta Employers’ Association, Life Network Foundation and Christian groups have all sounded warnings and presented their objections in the discussions on the new equality bills, but to no avail.

The red light is on. It is an appeal to our authorities to take note and intervene in the best interest of our country, in the name of freedom.

It has been said ad nauseam that “the equality bills will not make anything that is illegal in Malta legal, so there is no need to worry”. This is at best naïve and concrete amendments need to take place in order for us to be reassured.

The two bills numbered 96 and 97 contain a supremacy clause that prevails over any other ordinary law that runs counter to them. Resistance to the removal of the supremacy clause logically leads one to think that there may be existing laws or others in the future that may be stealthily amended through such a clause.

In our legal system there are two ordinary laws, the European Convention Act (ch. 319) and the European Union Act, which are considered as supreme vis-à-vis any other ordinary law. The equality bill legislation as proposed will have supremacy over them, as well as over the Embryo Protection Act and the Criminal Code. This is another cause for legitimate worry.

It was stated that: “This government will not compromise on the principle of equality for all. It is the backbone of our belief system and the equality bill will further strengthen the legal framework in this regard.” Commendable words indeed, had this not really been a case of doublespeak at its best.

Catholics will have their religious freedom in the public square taken away

The bills will clamp down on anyone who as much as touches upon the 'protected characteristics' in a way deemed offensive by anyone, be it in journalism, media and or day to day living. This, in practice, will mean that Christians and Catholics will have their religious freedom in the public square taken away, the right of Church school administration in choosing employees representing their ethos in the senior management teams is no longer guaranteed, the fundamental right of parents to educate their children in their philosophical belief is threatened and the right to conscientious objection is excluded. This is not strengthening of our backbone but reducing the country to a cripple.

In January 2020, Prime Minister Robert Abela, when meeting the Archbishop at the Dar tal-Kleru, stated in a televised interview that he did not see a need for a change to Article II of the Malta Constitution, regarding religion, more so because Malta is a tolerant nation. The prime minister is right – we are a tolerant people. Love your enemy is at the heart of the gospel!

Equality as a principle based on human dignity and the intrinsic value of every person from conception to natural death is a principle easily understood by all people. Tolerance is a virtue we all need to learn and to live in a pluralistic society. We are obliged to accept, love and tolerate each other to live in peace.

However, the equality bills go too far when they include endorsement and promotion within the law. One cannot be forced to endorse and promote lifestyles that run contrary to one’s faith. Freedom of expression, religious freedom in day to day life and conscientious objection are seriously threatened.

Parliament approved the bill decriminalising porn and repealing religious vilification in 2016 in a bid to remove censorship. In 2020, we want to introduce a new censorship, this time a gag order on anyone who will not endorse or promote gender ideology. How can this even start to make sense? 

As we pitch gender ideology versus religious freedom, we will see indoctrination attempts rammed down our throats. The targets will be innocent children (who in the name of a false equality will be bombarded by WHO-endorsed early sexualisation programmes in school curricula), ordinary families and individuals. People who just want to go on living their faith as they have always lived it in the last century will be labelled homophobic and ridiculed.

The stage is being set for the persecution of believers.

Miriam Sciberras, Chairman, Life Network Foundation Malta

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