Valletta, 14 September 2023 Kristine Garina, President of the European Pride Organisers Association, spoke in the opening session of the Human Rights Conference during EuroPride Valletta on Thursday 14 September. She spoke immediately after Prime Minister Robert Abela.

“Thank you, Prime Minister, for your welcome, and I want to thank the organisers at Allied Rainbow Communities and Malta Pride for what has been a stunning EuroPride so far.

I cannot help but think of a contrast with last year’s EuroPride Human Rights Conference, where the Prime Minister of Serbia was heckled by activists from our community for failing to protect LGBTI+ people and for having the nerve to attend the Conference the same day her government had issued a ban on the EuroPride March. What a difference a year makes!

It is, of course, wonderful and entirely appropriate that we are celebrating EuroPride in Malta, which for almost a decade now has topped the Rainbow Europe index. I want to acknowledge all who were a part of making that happen: including Commissioner Dalli, and I look forward to hearing your speech soon.

Malta, you are indeed a beacon. We hope, a beacon of inspiration for progressive governments across Europe and beyond. We know, a beacon of hope for activists in countries that have a long way to go to reach Malta’s status.

But I want to give a word of caution. You must not lose sight of the fact that LGBTI+ equality is not linear, and we must continue to make progress. The situation in the United Kingdom should serve as a warning: Less than a decade ago they were at the top of the Rainbow Europe index, and yet today they languish in 17th place. The UK government stopped making progress and the UK is now a hostile and increasingly dangerous place for LGBTI+ people.

There is room for more progress in Malta. ILGA Europe call for better protection against discrimination in goods and services, for the establishment of an equality body, and for better monitoring of the experiences of LGBTI+ asylum seekers. And I want to add a call for the Maltese government to recognise that reproductive rights are LGBTI+ rights and on this measure, Malta falls way below most other European countries, even last year’s EuroPride host country, Serbia.

The courage and determination you used to push forward LGBTI+ reform is the same courage and determination that will reform reproductive rights for everyone.

I wish you an inspiring and thought provoking human rights conference, and a wonderful EuroPride!”

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