Why gay voters are people just like everyone else

Published: March 7, 2008 at 4:29pm

L-iljun tal-bidla knocks on doors to drum up more votes

L-iljun tal-bidla knocks on doors to drum up more votes

There’s been a lot of fuss about the gay vote in this election, because – at last – more and more gay people are out and proud. The difficulty I have is in understanding this: gay people say they want to be treated like everyone else, and then they insist on behaving differently when it comes to casting their vote.

Let me put it this way. I don’t vote ‘as a woman’. I don’t vote ‘as a heterosexual person’. I vote as a person with a brain, with an eye to the economy and choosing the man best fit, from the only available choice of two, to guide Malta through the very difficult waters that lie ahead. I vote by looking at the two options and thinking, right, now which one has the best track record and which one do I trust most to do things properly?

That’s all. I don’t look at issues like women’s rights or women’s problems. Anyone who knows me will also know I can’t stand this sort of thing: the ghettoisation of women. By playing the victim in need of special treatment, women are just running headlong into a trap. So I’m not a big one for women’s day tripe and nonsense and women’s pressure groups and women’s networks and all that kind of thing. Yes, I know that many people enjoy them and find them useful, but I just say they’re not for me.

If you go around in life thinking of yourself primarily as A Woman or as A Gay (I hate that phrase; it reminds me of the fat Welsh git in Little Britian) you’re setting yourself up for a hard time. If you want to get into the mainstream just head for the mainstream – in 2008, whether you’re a woman (homosexual or heterosexual) or a homosexual man has nothing to do with the price of eggs.

Vote for me because I’m gay

Somebody asked me, in a comment posted somewhere else on this site, what I think of AD candidate Patrick Attard’s article. Attard is appealing for the gay vote. Here are my views. If gay people want to be treated like everyone else, then they have to start by behaving like everyone else, and this means using the same considerations when weighing up the options on who to vote for. It also means that, if you are a gay electoral candidate, you do not define yourself as a gay electoral candidate. If this is your USP (unique selling-point) then obviously, people are going to ask, but what else do you have to offer?

I don’t see Dolores Cristina saying ‘vote for me because I am a woman’. We vote for her (well, I don’t, because she’s not in my district, but otherwise I would) not because she is a woman and because we want to have a woman in parliament to push forward women’s rights issues. We vote for her because she’s down-to-earth, practical and a good coper. When a gay candidate comes shouting into the arena that we should vote for him because he’s gay, then I must ask: doesn’t he want to widen his market a little more than that? If his only selling-point is his sexuality, then I’m not interested – not that I would be interested in an AD candidate, in any case.

Gay people insist they are not different (of course they’re not, for heaven’s sake), and yet there are some who, like Patrick Attard, let the whole show down by insisting on using a different set of measures to the norm when voting or standing for election. When I head for the polling-booth, my sole consideration isn’t voting for a woman who promises to champion women’s rights and dignity. It’s a side issue, a minor thing – the most important consideration is the big picture. Let’s put it this way: what price women’s rights and gay rights if the economy is in a shambles, we’re being taxed up to the hilt, and somebody is picking a fight with the European Union? And come on, please explain to me what these gay rights that we’re so sorely missing might possibly be. If they are different to all the rights we straight people have already, then I have to ask: how come gays get more rights than non-gays do?

Hi, I’m Tony, and I’m gay

Before any gay man called Tony thinks I’m talking about him, I’ll point out that I wanted to pick a name at random and looked at my Staffordshire bull terrier, who’s called Tony. The mastiff is called Santino. He’s not named after anyone famous who’s contesting an election right now. He’s a Neapolitan breed and we wanted a Camorra name, so it was a toss-up between Santino and Gennaro. Unfortunately, not many people understand this, but I can assure you that the one thing this dog is not is a chicken.

I really can’t understand why some gay men think they have problems, that they’re being discriminated against or persecuted. From what I can see, gay men are always the most popular people on the party list, the ones that we all want to be around because, unlike the vast majority of straight men, they’re good conversationalists and make us laugh (and they take showers regularly and dress nicely). They’re also extremely successful in whichever career they choose, not least because gay men have far higher levels of emotional intelligence than straight men, who would like us to think they have none at all, and this helps them get ahead (women have the same natural advantage).

What’s the fuss about, exactly? Gay men are protected by precisely the same laws that protect straight men – and women of both stripes, too, for that matter. I see no gay men being hanged from cranes or lesbians being stoned in public squares. I don’t even hear anyone commenting anymore. The social pages of the media are dominated by gay couples, and the ‘let’s take a look at this person’s house’ magazine pages likewise. Malta is extremely accepting of anything and anyone that is neither black nor Muslim. Ironically, it’s a state of affairs that’s been brought about by the absence of divorce. When everyone’s shacking up with everyone else and having children in all kinds of extraordinary circumstances, because marriage is out of the question, nobody is going to blink an eye at a gay couple. Who cares – really, who does?

Out loud and proud

Some gay people seem to make a point of defining themselves as gay instead of just thinking of themselves as John, or Tony, or Catherine, in the same way that I think of myself as Daphne. What’s the problem here? I’ve just realized that many of the people I work with are gay – men and women – and I hadn’t made the connection before because that’s not how I think of them or define them. I just think of them by their names and their personality, just as I do with everyone else. It would surprise me to find out that this is not how they think of themselves, that they think of themselves instead as Daffyd (‘Hi, I’m the only gay in the village’) in Little Britain. And I’m quite sure they don’t think of me as ‘straight Daphne’, either.

The gay vote? Come on. That’s rubbish, surely. Gay people need the same things that the rest of us do: a stable government, a sound economy, low taxation, high levels of employment, good career prospects, reliable education, the reassurance that no fights will be picked with the European Union, a commitment to the environment, and an atmosphere of freedom rather than of oppression and the fear of voicing criticism.

If I were gay, I would never vote on the basis of some tenuous thing called ‘gay rights’ (please explain to me how gay rights are different to human rights). I would have more important things on my mind. There’s no point in having a government that’s willing to pay meaningless I-love-gays lip-service if you don’t have many pink pounds in your pocket and are worried that your colleagues are being laid off and you might be next.

Gay men have a lot to learn from straight women. Straight women have been abused, violated, picked upon, molested, burnt at the stake, drowned, stoned, imprisoned in their homes, beaten, deprived of their rights and their freedom and even their children and their vote, since the dawn of history and most certainly before that. We have long, long experience of fighting the most atrocious kind of violations, and yet you won’t see a single woman going around nowadays and talking about ‘the woman’s vote’. Yes, gay men suffered too, but at least they could hide their sexuality. Women couldn’t exactly hide their gender.

Women tend to be horribly practical people, despite some men’s portrayal of us as chicken-brains who spend our time frivolously shopping (I love shopping, but I don’t have a chicken-brain). We decide how to vote on the basis of what’s best for us, for our family and for the country. Gay men should follow our example and do the same.

14 Comments Comment

  1. Dumbledore says:

    Imagine a minority group of people with orange hair.

    Who would orange haired people vote for if orange haired people could not get married in Malta and there was an orange haired candidate within AD fighting for their right to get married? Marriage is just one of the many many rights that gay people in Malta don’t have.

    The discrimination between straight couples and gay couples is very big and you have to be gay and be coupled to feel it.

    [Moderator – You are missing the point. The Civil Rights Movement was not called the Black Rights Movement. Racial discrimination is an injustice foisted on all civilisation, not solely on black people, and framing it as ‘black’ issue would only have contributed to the marginalisation of black people. Similarly, the sexual orientation of someone fighting against sexual discrimination is irrelevant. It is so irrelevant, that you will find ‘gay leaders’ calling for the marginalisation of gay couples into a ‘partnership’ instead of straightforward marriage, and then berating Josie Muscat when he suggests the same thing. If we were to flip the sexual orientations around, I would be similarly incensed at someone fighting for the ghettoisation of heterosexuals into some kind of a half-baked marriage.]

  2. Holland says:


    in this contribution you seem to forget that until 1971 homosexuality or better sodomy was illegal in Malta – and the law has not moved much forward in that when it comes to legal recognition of gay relationships.

    You want to ignore the fact that there is such a thing as a gay friendly political party. It was Tony Blair’s Labour party that introduced gay civil partnerships and it was the current Spanish premier who introduced gay marriage in Spain. Some parties, like the British conversatives have it in their DNA (sorry, Charles) not to introduce these human rights.

    And human rights they are – As much as you had a right to marry your husband and have children, so does a gay person. It is all about legal recognition and legal rights for everyone. You very conveniently omitted the fact that in Malta a gay person has less civil rights than a straight one. You also forgot the famous European vote in which one PN MEP abstained, and the other voted against.

    Having said all this, I wont be voting AD or MLP. As you said, there are more important issues at play. It just breaks my heart that in Malta you can only vote for a Church-influenced party or the type of people you have very well already described in your articles.

  3. europarl says:

    Great minds discuss ideas.
    Average minds discuss events.
    Small minds discuss people.

    – Eleanor Roosevelt

    [Moderator –

    Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. – That Irishman.


  4. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Hi Dumbledore – you might have missed Lawrence Gonzi giving his commitment for the enactment of legislation to regularise the position of those who live together. The biggest issue with any contractual partnership between two people who are in a relationship is not ‘telling the world you belong together’ but property, and will I get thrown out of the house if the other one dies, and similar material concerns. As Gonzi pointed out, we are not talking here of only gay people, but also brothers and sisters or mothers and adult offspring who live together. It’s a big problem in Britain, where the inheritance tax on property is so punitive that if two brothers, for example, live together and one dies, the other is forced to sell the roof over his head to pay the tax. Don’t forget that it isn’t only gay people who can’t marry – it’s also people who have already been married before. I don’t see how voting for a political party that can never form a government is going to help introduce legislation for gay marriage. Far better to lobby the parties that can form a government.

  5. issimpson says:


    I am a gay (oh that phrase sent me on laughing fits but anyway) … i totally agree with you in this article. besides, i don’t really feel i’m threatened here in malta, law or no law, and i’m as out as could be really. i’m the kind of person who refuses the idea of gay parades, gay bars, gay this gay that. The gay community can’t comprehend that by doing this, they are widening the gap and creating segregation that never existed in the first place. I truely feel for people that let their orientation (not sexuality) define them. one should understand that their orientation is just a very small little part of their whole entire beautiful self.

    oh god, i sound like i’m preaching, but this really is heartfelt :)

    thanks daphne … i’ll really miss this blog of yours!

  6. Hi Daphne
    It is I!
    Do not make the mistake of putting all gay people in one category as there are so many it may surprise even you. While I feel I should not be treated any differently from my straight brothers or sisters for that matter there are certain issues that need to be addressed by the incoming government and it is not just a cohabitation law that can umbrella a variety of situations but a formal recognition that the need to enact anti-homophobic laws exists. The need to recognise under the law that such a thing as a gay partnership exists and that provision should be made for it regarding inheritance, tax and social benefits as pertains to a straight couple today. This is what Zapatero has achieved in Spain and this is what today’s society requests of the incoming government. You know and I know what happened in Brussels a couple of months ago. I will not go into that however you know and I know that the incoming government must stop hiding under ecclesiastical petticoats and start addressing issues like same sex partnerships and divorce. As you pointed out in your article Malta is VERY tolerant (at least the Malta you and I know Daphne) . In other spheres of society things may be a bit different. Unmarried, second round couples may be the norm for you and I but it certainly is not for other people, Gay men like myself who grace the pages of your magazines with my paintings, my cooking or my writing are NOT the norm! There is a silent and oppressed majority who are still stifling in a closet or trapped in a marriage of convenience. But I digress.
    All the parties have in some way or another declared themselves to be in favour of alleviating the situation. The entire lot met the MGRM and discused the various issues. The MGRM has made it crystal clear that it does not support any party. I will forward a copy of the latest newsletter for you to have a look. Patrick Attard is unique in the sense that he has come out publicly as a candidate for whatever party. It is very brave of him and I admire him immensely however that will certainly not sway the way I am going to vote which as you know will be for the greater good.
    I have every confidence that the issue will be discussed and happily concluded in some byzantine typical Maltese way that will squirm out of any direct confrontation with Malta Cattolica. If anyone can pull that off it will be Lawrence Gonzi.

  7. Dumbledore says:

    issimpson, are you coupled? Don’t you realise how many advantages straight couples have over gay couples. I can’t list them all here but here are a few: tax, VAT refunds, property allowances, marriage, protection against discrimination, inheritance, pensions, sick leave, life insurance policies …. even silly things like gym memberships …

  8. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Dumbledore, you are making the mistake of saying that those advantages apply to ‘straight couples’. They don’t. They apply to married couples. Straight couples who aren’t married are in exactly the same position as gay couples. And like me, you must know a lot of them.

  9. David Friggieri says:

    Patrick is running for AD, not for a single-issue party. AD seems to be the party which takes minority rights, including gay rights, most seriously. Other parties appeal to ‘il-familji Maltin u Ghawdxin’, as an identifiable core voter audience [husband, wife, 2.1 kids]. You also get appeals directed at ‘il-mara tad-dar’.

    There is absolutely nothing amiss in AD flagging its minority rights credentials as part of its proposals. In fact it’s a welcome development.

    Good luck Patrick!

    And another thing, addressed to Kenneth. All this talk about ‘the common good’ trumping all other considerations is a neat trap as most books on liberty detail very well. Many lives have been sacrificed on the altar of the common good. Tolerant societies are built on a more nuanced conception of how we can live together.

  10. Dumbledore says:

    Daphne, in certain gyms and certain associations/clubs/societies unmarried straight couples can apply as a couple while a same-sex couple cannot. Furthermore, certain Life Assurance companies raise the premium if you say yes to their “are you in a homosexual relationship” question. So yes, same-sex couples are at a disadvantage compared to straight couples. I don’t think I am wrong in pointing these things out. We can also talk about non-married couples who are planning to get married. These couples have certain Housing Authority advantages. But I guess I am not allowed to talk about this because these couples have the intention to get married and I’d be wrong to compare same-sex non-married couples with heterosexual married couples, am I?

  11. Dumbledore says:

    Daphne, in summary:
    You are incorrect when you say that “Straight couples who aren’t married are in exactly the same position as gay couples.”

  12. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    No, Dumbledore, I’m not incorrect. I just don’t see the world in terms of black and white (gay and straight), that’s all. And you shouldn’t either.

  13. Holland says:


    It is ok to be incorrect sometimes; it is only human. Dont worry – we still like you.


    Hi, i have to say that Daphne could not be more correct, down to earth, rational and positive. I don’t mind being with gay people. Why should I? I see them as people, as an individual, people with a heart and with a brain, people with whom I can discuss and enjoy an evening out with. When I go out for an evening with friends, I don’t say that i’m going out with straight and gay people, but i’m going out with friends. Regarding women’s rights, I agree with you Daphne that I don’t vote for a woman just because she’s a woman, but because she’s got brains and her capabilities……but I have to say that the woman issue cannot be judged on european basis. I have read a feature on the journal American Foreign Policy where quote:” UNAMA – UN Assistance mission in Afghanistan issued a report stating that – women who dare speak out against the widespread trampling of their rights face almost certain death while their murderers face 100% impunity.” unquote. So regarding women’s rights although in Europe this is not much of an issue, i believe that it is still an issue to be addressed on regional basis.

Leave a Comment