Milk Today

An odd title but a fantastic movie on many levels. 'Milk' tells the story of American gay rights activist turned politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn). Set in the years 1970 - 1978 the movie is a great eye-opener on the scarcity of gay civil rights at the time, a time mired by extreme conservatism and religious fundamentalism. It is a the moving saga of a man who took to the streets of San Francisco, California telling the world that gay men and women are not sick, not a threat to society but humans of flesh and blood, humans endowed with inalianable rights just like anyone else. Against all odds, Milk and his movement managed to overcome a law that would have had all gay teachers lose their job just because of their sexual orientation. Milk tragically lost his life in a cold-blooded assasination conducted by his psycopathic ex-political colleague Dan White in November of 1978.

Sean Penn, who brilliantly portrayed the role of Milk and for which he won an oscar, opened his speech on a light note, thanking the "commie, homo-loving sons of guns" who awarded him his prestigious prize. Yet it's not all humor, for Penn then goes on to say

"For those who saw the signs of hatred (see below) as our cars drove in tonight,
I think that it is a good time for those that voted for the ban against gay
marriage (referring to Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California) to sit
and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their
grand-children's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have
equal rights for everyone."

4 years ago, at the Spanish Senate, current Spanish PM J.L.R. Zapatero tabled an ammendment to the marriage law effectively legalizing gay marriage. In a highly political but moving speech Zapatero said

"a decent society is one which does not humiliate its the
Spanish society gives answer to a group of people that for years were
humilated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity was offended, their
identities denied, and their freedom supressed. Today the Spanish society gives
them back the dignity they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their
dignity, affirms their identity and restitutes their freedom."

I'm sure that if Harvey Milk was still alive today he would have rejoiced at this great victory in Spain and the victories for gay men and women in Canada, Belgium and Holland. He would have felt that his voice and his victories were not in vain.

Persecution and blatant discriminatory treatment for gays was abolished in Malta decades ago and their rights reinforced under the community law of the EU. But it's not all that rosey for Maltese gays. Gay marriage is still light-years away in a country were the relationship between Church and State, or let's put it this way, religion and "secular" politics is still very strong. It was only by the intervention of gay-rights activist Dr. Patrick Attard that an utterly brutal and hateful book "The Catholic Church and Homosexuality" (a book which claimed aids is God's answer for homosexuality and defended the slaughter of gays in the past) was removed from the book-shelves. Like Dr. Attard I am myself confused as to how a person, such as Norman Lowell receives a suspended sentence for inciting racial hatred in his speeches, and the Church does not even issue one apology for selling and promoting this book. The religio et patria (religion and country) sentiment, believe it or not, is still very much alive today. Just take a look at today's politicians and opinionists writing on newspapers.
Back to the persons also lack other basic rights afforded to heterosexual couples. A clear example is in rent law. Whereas legally married heterosexual couples have the successory rights to a rent, cohabiting and/or gay couples do not. Why? The reason is because the PN (who is in power) is not 'liberal' according to vice prime minister Tonio Borg:
"After we've finally decided to limit inheritance to married
couples and children, now we expect to extend this protection
to those who decide to go and live with someone of the same
When I look at the Constitution, the European Convention for Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the principle consistently embodied therein is one: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." I cannot for the life of me understand how we hold such a noble truth in high regard and yet supress it at the same time. I'm sure Harvey Milk would be most displeased with this current status-quo. I'm sure he would not just sit back and take it however. He would say: it is time to come out of the closet and fight!
For this I congratulate Dr. Attard who is doing a fantastic job - he has my full support.

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