A lesbian prime minister is not OK, but a lesbian president is fine

Published: November 10, 2009 at 3:31pm
Maltese people don't want a lesbian for prime minister

Maltese people don't want a lesbian for prime minister

Further to my previous post, the same survey reveals that the majority of Maltese respondents wouldn’t mind a woman prime minister as long as she is not a lesbian.

I guess the prospect of photo opportunities with Kate and Kate is just too much, and magazine features where Michelle and Michelle invite them into their lovely lace-curtained home would make their toes curl.

I guess it escaped their notice that we had a lesbian president for years, and a really butch one at that. It’s not like she hid it or anything.

More thinking out of the seat of their pants. They don’t want prime ministers who are not Roman Catholic, when both Dom Mintoff and Alfred Sant are atheists. And they don’t like lesbians in high office, when they cheered Agatha Barbara on all the way to San Anton Palace.

So exhausting. Qabda ostriches.

61 Comments Comment

  1. Leonard says:

    Hand on heart, I’d be uncomfortable with a prime minister who wears a goatee.

    • Tony Pace says:

      Well, I used to say the same about one wearing a wig, but someone somewhere still chose to lumber us with him for 22 horribilus months.

    • Harry Purdie says:

      That’s appropriate. Defintion of goatee–‘Etymology:from its resemblance to a similarity to a he-goat’. So now we have a ‘he-goat’ leading half a nation of sheep. Woe is us.

    • Saying the freaks…the gays..the spastics etc. as equal to us is obviously a joke…they are not like us …and will never be like us. I will never accept comparison between hetero, gay , blacks etc…none are equal…for me gays are freaks of nature…when nature acts the way its not supposed to…its a freak accident..so they are freaks yes…I dont mind gays much…but the butch lesbians…I just find them so disgusting…jaqq what a perversion…if we are to accept gays then we should accept pedofli …people having sex with animals etc so bring out all the freaks. haha freak show perverted sickos jaqq disgustanti dan nies. skerz tan natura…when nature goes bad and sick minds take over.

    • Gianni Xuereb says:

      but not an MEP who wears a goatee……

  2. jomar says:

    Watch it, Daphne. Soon, the LP will take credit for being ahead of the times when they appointed Agatha Barbara as president.

    Her lifestyle preference may have been the only qualification she had, but enough to hold high office – in socialist times.

    • Twanny says:

      Hey Jomar – how come you failed to comment on Daphne’s publication of Alex Vella Gera’s story? (here, anyway)

  3. Paul Gatt says:

    Which brings us to the interesting point that a Labour government not only decriminalised sodomy but also promoted a lesbian to head of state. How irrelevant does all this make LGBT Labour? Looks like the current leader needs a lesson in the history of the Labour Party.

  4. Scerri S says:

    The survey is an eye-opener, though, isn’t it? Basically 45% of the Maltese claim that they wouldn’t trust me in a position of authority, before even caring to get to know me.

    [Daphne – Isn’t it ridiculous? They wouldn’t trust a lesbian or somebody who is not a Roman Catholic, but then they’d trust somebody who is under 30 as prime minister. Whacko.]

    Rejection with a capital R. In previous blogs you also seemed to believe that homophobia in Malta was less rampant – or that was my impression. I suppose it’s all about family backgrounds and frequented social circles though, as I never had any problems whatsoever within my own. But it seems there’s a different majority out there.

    I’d never flaunt my sexuality, irrespective of my orientation – it’s just not me. However this kind of news is what makes me want to go and grab a rainbow flag and parade down Republic Street. I suppose that’s the natural reaction to this in-your-face discrimination and repression. There’s the origin of gay pride for you.

    Although in some countries it’s no longer necessary and has evolved to a fancy free-for-all street party, in countries such as ours it is still relevant – to show those 45% that non-hetero people are neither living in the other corner of the island, nor ‘things that happen to other families’, but we are your friends and relatives.

  5. M. Bormann says:

    Wasn’t Agatha Barbara a man?

    [Daphne – Is a screaming queen a woman? No, sugar. She was a butch dyke.]

  6. Malcolm Farrugia says:

    Daphne, as you well know once a person is chosen as president he or she goes to live at San Anton Palace for five years. I was only a child when Agatha Barbara was president, but I still remember that most people called her ” ix- xadina ta’ San Anton”, if she was a lesbian or not I don’t know but definitely she lacked femininity. On a lighter note, just to stick to the argument, the sexuality of a politician or president is irrelevant. All I care about is that we have the right people in office.

  7. Andrea says:

    Only heterosexual Roman Catholics shall be in power? Oh, I love simplistic thinking. Life is way too perplexing anyway.

    Look at Germany: the Chancellor is a female, married but childless (she has a stepson though, since her husband was married before) Protestant from East Germany (Socialist!), who is called Mutti (= Mummy) by some of her colleagues and the media.

    Chancellor Merkel’s husband doesn’t play his “First Husband” part and prefers to avoid the limelight. Our gay German foreign minister’s English sounds pretty awkward and he even refuses to speak this redundant language on useless occasions like, let’s say, international press conferences.

    The finance minister, a dreaded political hardliner, is physically handicapped since he survived attempted murder and sits in a wheelchair. The health minister was born in Vietnam, and lived in an orphanage until a German couple adopted him. When his new parents got divorced years later, he stayed with his father, who gave up his career in the German armed forces in order to raise his son.

    The female minister for family affairs has got seven children and the public debates whether she has enough time juggling with her own family affairs.

    I personally have only one concern: their politics.

  8. L. Micallef says:

    I wonder how the majority of people who answered this survey can still call themselves Catholics. Love and tolerance and acceptance are no longer a part of the religion then? The hypocrisy takes my breath away. By their reasoning, someone like Miss Carrie Prejean would be more acceptable than Barack Obama or Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

  9. Cassandra Montegna says:

    Was she a lesbian? Did she identify as such? Is there a difference between an openly gay, practising rug muncher and a gently tortured Catholic Sapphic?

    (time I had a ponder….)

    [Daphne – Are you the sort who would only believe Liberace was gay if he called a press conference to say so?]

    • Cassandra Montegna says:

      I’m the sort who lets people define themselves…. even when it’s (painfully) obvious, it’s normally best to let people “come out” for themselves. I honestly wondered whether Barbara ever did, during her lifetime or in her memoirs or something.

      [Daphne – People didn’t in those days. They had the right attitude: that it’s nobody’s business and they don’t have to hype it up. Live and let live.]

      • Mark says:

        I am very suspicious of surveys conducted in Malta. I have reached the conclusion that there is a great chasm between the answers people give and their real attitudes. I find people are much more accepting and tolerant than they let on. I find that people are unaware of how accepting they truly are in real life situations.

        People have never had problems electing gay or lesbian candidates to parliament. In “those days”, and possibly these days, they may have problems electing people who are out. And by out I do not mean male candidates doing their door to door canvassing in pink leotards or a butch lesbian doing hers holding hands with her girlfriend. An example of being out is, for example, not being paranoid about people getting to know that you share your life with someone of the same sex.

        It is not about being in “your face” but about living your life exactly how another heterosexual politician would live it. It is only at that point that sexuality stops being at the centre of existence. If a politician has to make extra efforts to make sure “it’s nobody’s business” than sexuality does become central. The right attitude is when a gay MP can attend a function with his or her partner (sorry) and not necessarily be single.

        In “those days people” did not have a choice it had nothing to do with having a right or wrong attitude. Very often we miss the whole point. Fundamentally this is a question of choice. In those days people just did not have a choice.

  10. Sandro Pace says:

    I don’t know what you mean by atheists, but Mintoff always took the oath on the cross, and said the ‘Hekk Alla jghini’. So I don’t think he is an atheist. Alfred Sant, on the other hand, is a self-declared atheist.

  11. Mario De Bono says:

    @Andrea – You forgot to mention Gunther Verhuegen, who was caught prancing about a nudist beach wearing nothing more than a baseball cap with his unbelievably ugly chef de cabinet, a former Stasi agent, also in her birthday suit.

    [Daphne – I don’t know how you missed this, but Verheugen is ugly too. But I guess that’s OK because he’s a man, and they’re allowed to be ugly and have sex.]

    Now that’s kinky. Bild published photos of this momentous occasion, and from then on , Verhuegen was finished. To my mind, nearly all the EU politicians I met distinguished themselves by their kinkiness. This was true even as far back as 1992, when I was rather more involved than now.

    Joe Debono Grech, who may come across as gruff and uncompromising, loved to tell Agatha Barbara stories in the parliament bar. And the guy has a knack of telling them. We used to fall off chairs with laughter. A particular story he regaled us with was when a Japanese company, called Shirasuna, built a factory in Malta to assemble components for hi-fi. Joe was some sort of parliamentary secretary under Barbara, then “Ministru tax-Xoghol’ . Shirasuna complained to Joe that women workers were refusing to work night shifts because they were afraid that the men in the factory would bother them – ” Jittantawhom”. You have to remember this was around 1975, when Maltese girls had a different social code.

    Joe had to tell his minister, and in all fear he went to tell her. At this point, Barbara flew into a rage and said: ” Issa naghmel lejl maghhom, ha tara kemm mhux veru”. And she did. She spent two nights with the girls on the shop floor, doing the work they did. At the end of this exercise, Agatha Barbara went up to Joe, told him to gather the workers, called in the management, who were mostly little Japanese men, and declared to all and sundry that the Maltese girls had nothing to complain about.

    “Qed tara!” she screamed. “Lili hadd ma ttantani! Lejl shih hadd ma kellimni. Dawn kollha ksuhat! Mela ahdmu hemm. U ara ma nismax iktar minn dawn il-hmerijiet!”.

    And a man was heard saying sotto voce ” Mela xi hadd ha jmissek, biex tigdimulu barra jew!”

    At which point Joe Debono Grech and assorted members of staff burst out laughing. I can’t tell it as well as he can.

    • Mario De Bono says:

      You’re right, Verhuegen is pig ugly at that – actually fascinatingly ugly. Nothing works in his face. Petulant lips, jug ears, NHS style glasses…….

    • Andrea says:

      I find it rather funny that you compare Verheugen’s malpractice with gay, divorced, female or adopted people.
      Mr Verheugen’s case was one of adultery (he was married at that time), nepotism (he promoted his ‘lover’) and breach of etiquette (due to his function in Brussels).

      For the defence of the uncovered former Stasi agent (oh, the irony): nude bathing was (and is) common in East Germany. Verheugen’s case is not comparable with the politicians I was referring to. There is nothing kinky about them as far as I am concerned and they don’t harm anyone by living (and coping with) a modern and tolerant life. Their political actions are another story.

      As for the kinky EU politicians (and I only can speak about Germany): usually the lame ducks get dumped in Brussels.

  12. antoineg says:

    A prime minister is (usually) elected. A president is not.

  13. john says:

    To demonstrate how in touch she was with the affairs of her ministry, Agatha once famously informed the audience at a school prize-giving ceremony that she had regular intercourse with the Director of Education.

  14. Falzon says:

    Where do they get these survey participants from? I’ve never been approached for any. I would have said I’m ok with anyone as prime minister… as long as they’re not ginger.

  15. Gahan says:

    I think you are being cruel to her. It was not her fault if she was a lesbian. We elected gay MP’s one of whom was also a minister.

    [Daphne – And your point is what, exactly? That the word ‘lesbian’ is an insult? Not very progressive, are you.]

    • Antoine Vella says:

      What I did find objectionable in Agatha Barbara as president – apart from her politics, of course – was not her sexuality or appearance but the swearing and crude language, for which she was renowned.

      • gahan says:

        Whenever she got elected she did so on her own steam. Now that she’s dead you are stating the obvious: we all knew that she was a ‘mara-ragel’ as we say in Maltese.

        [Daphne – I consider the term ‘mara ragel’ to be insulting in the extreme. It is equivalent to the term ‘lady boy’. Ms Barbara was not a a cross between a man and a woman. She was butch. Enter the 21st century, please.]

        We are electing MPs and MEPs who are homosexual. If the survey was one of those surveys where some 500 questions are asked at one go taking around one and a half hours….

        I was one of the surveyed and completed the survey/interview out of pity for the interviewer. I just answered a, b, c, or d, e, f, g if I recall correctly.

        Can you imagine yourself coming back from work only to hear the door bell and find this interviewer with some A4 papers in his hand asking you who has the first birthday in the household who is over 25? He says that he has a survey commissioned by some EU entity and whether I would like to help him fill up the form. You start and after filling the first bunch of papers you take a sigh of relief to find out as time passes that the A4 packet in the big suitcase WAS the survey!

        So whenever you hear these statistics, take them with a pinch of salt. Ask under what circumstances these surveys were conducted. It’s like answering all the questions of two “The Weakest Link” programmes.

        Daphne, feel free to email or phone me. I can give you more details.

      • gahan says:

        I know that ‘Mara-ragel’ is the crude Maltese definition of a lesbian. That’s how she was defined in her times. In Sliema during the last war there was such a woman, one hears, who used to help out clearing debris voluntarily, she was known as Mary Man.

        [Daphne – Mara-ragel is NOT the crude Maltese term for a lesbian. It is the crude Maltese term for what we would call a transgender person today: somebody who is born a woman but should really have been a man, and who might have a sex-change to sort out that problem in part. Perhaps I should introduce you to some of the glamorous, good-looking lesbians I know – the kind that some backwoods men talk about ‘converting’ and who men in general have lesbian fantasies about (men’s lesbian fantasies never feature Agatha Barbara or Mary Man) – so that you can see just how ridiculous the term mara-ragel is when applied to them.]

      • gahan says:

        Aren’t you implying in your title here that Ms Barbara was a lesbian? I cannot prove what she was, but we used to say that she was a ‘mara-ragel’. Could it be that we never bothered to classify her or because lesbjana was a new word in Maltese some 35 years ago?

        [Daphne – 1. I am not implying that Agatha Barbara was a lesbian. I am stating it as fact. 2. Where I come from, lesbian is not an insult. It is a fact or it is not a fact. In this case, it is a fact. 3. There is nothing to prove, because homosexuality is not a crime. 4. What you used to call her is completely irrelevant. Mara-ragel is not the Maltese word for lesbian. It is the crude Maltese way of describing somebody who was born a woman but should have been a man. This is different from homosexuality. 5. Lesbjana was not a new word in Maltese 35 years ago, though lesbianism might have been a novel concept to people raised in a Maltese village environment. I admit that people raised in total ignorance of all languages other than Maltese would not have had the word to describe what they meant, because ‘lesbjana’ comes to us directly from English. But mara-ragel just doesn’t do it when the lesbian in question looks and behaves nothing like a man. So tell me, Gahan – what did in-nies tal-irhula call beautiful, feminine lesbians? Or didn’t they even know they exist?]

      • gahan says:

        There wasn’t one word for lesbian like the one word references of ‘pufta’,’toqbi’ or ‘bugarrun’.
        In villages a lesbian was referred to as “Dik li thobb tmur man-nisa” whether she was beautiful or not. This reference is still in use, although “lesbjuna” is more in use now.

  16. D. Muscat says:

    I do hope that insults hurled here are just metaphors meant to spice up the blog. A good analogy is the insulting done in Maltes Ghana Spirtu Pront – an anthropologist would tell that it is just a game & yet … Anyway, I would still be a bit uneasy. One of the famous maxims of the latins is this: the gentlemen never attacks his adversary by pointing to physical defects or moral weaknesses. Perhaps we need to heed that advice. Once I commented her against Daphne using this style … I regret doing that even though here we are mimicing traditional maltese singers insulting each other …. though out of snobbery we think that we are superior just because we know how to use the internet & write in English!

  17. ETHEL says:

    How are Eurobarometer surveys conducted please? Interesting to know. Thanks

  18. Dominic Fenech says:

    Well, you see Daphne, here is a case when you must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water (with your tendency to find nothing good about Labour’s legacy). It was possible to have a lesbian as President of the Republic at the time, because the Labour Party had asserted secularism, after a sustained resistance lasting years and at a high cost to itself.

    As you rightly point out, ‘they had the right attitude’ then. By the time that Ms Barbara was voted president, there was enough healthy contempt for moral bigotry, at least in the Labour ranks, that no one batted an eyelid. Like it or not, a generation of Nationalist administration, unhindered, one must admit, by any serious vigilance on the side of the opposition, has rolled back that achievement somewhat.

    • Jacques Blacques says:

      So Professor Fenech does read this blog, after all. Given his silence on what I had to say about what happened when he was secretary general of the Labour Party, I thought he spent his time reading only the debates of the Legislative Assembly and Lino Spiteri’s novels.

      Why doesn’t he tell us whether he knows who the thugs were who set Strickland House on fire? That would be “serious vigilance”, but instead he is just tryingto take credit for Miss Barbara’s appointment to President of Malta.

      If Professor Fenech knows who the thugs were, he is in duty bound to go to the police and tell them, or is he waiting for the prescriptive period to pass?

  19. andrew hili says:

    They don’t want prime ministers who are not Roman Catholic, when both Dom Mintoff and Alfred Sant are atheists.”

    So both of them are atheists.

    Alfred Sant is as Roman Catholic as I am, which is to say, not at all.”

    So you’re Catholic as much as Sant – so that makes you an atheist as well?

    [Daphne – This is the kind of reasoning that makes me despair. A little less religion and a lot more classes in thinking skills would have served you better, sir. This is how you worked it out: “Alfred Sant is not a Catholic. Daphne Caruana Galizia is not a Catholic either. Alfred Sant is an atheist. Therefore Daphne Caruana Galizia must be an atheist too.” Failed.]

  20. andrew hili says:

    i doubt you’ll publish this

    [Daphne – I just did. Not only can’t you think, but you’re not good at assessing personality either. If I were an atheist, I’d say so. But shhhhhhh! I’m a devotee of the flying spaghetti monster because atheism is too nihilistic for me.]

  21. Melissa says:

    Way things stand, I don’t see a Maltese woman who is white, straight and Catholic EVER becoming PM in the next few decades…..but by then a lot of these interviewees would have kicked the bucket…..*SIGH*

  22. Chris says:

    Actually writing that Agatha Barbara was a lesbian simply because she was ugly and not very feminine is very unlike you. I’d expect you to imply it in your flavour of humour, which I do very much enjoy. But declaring it on the basis of her appearance jars with your usual objective way of looking at things.

    [Daphne – Where’s that wall, so I can bang my head against it? You’re right: only a fool (or one of those awful chauvinistic men who run rife on this island) would conclude that a woman is a lesbian because she is ugly or unfeminine. And that’s why it’s not what I said. Agatha Barbara was quite obviously homosexual in precisely the same way that the very effeminate men described as screaming queens are quite obviously homosexual. And that’s quite apart from the fact that she had what that generation and earlier generations called a lady companion.]

  23. Joe Borg aka Zuzu says:

    I can’t see what was wrong with my censored comment…

    [Daphne – It was rude and pointless. Try saying it another way.]

  24. Chris says:

    Many people in history were said to have a same-sex partner. Even if such allegations were baseless, they still attracted much interest from the LGBT community who would push speculation in favour of the idea that the person in question was not heterosexual.
    The classical example is Abraham Lincoln. Simply because he shared a bed with a male friend on a trip or something, when such a thing was common practice at the time.

  25. Carmel says:


    [Daphne – Another elderly man who thinks lesbian is an insult rather than a statement of fact. No, Carmel, I don’t think there are any lesbian politicians on either side of the house, but that might be because there are hardly any women there. Is your caps lock stuck?]

    • Leonard says:

      When are some people going to learn that a message with all the words in capital letters is the equivalent of shouting in someone’s face and is extremely rude?

      [Daphne – You don’t know Carmel like I do. That’s precisely what he would have been doing: shouting at me.]

  26. lady boy is not a derogatory term daphne…it is a common term used for transvestites.. correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve seen the word dozens of times on foreign newspapers. Or maybe you’re deciding which terms are an insult and which not heh.

    [Daphne – I can only guess what sort of foreign newspapers you read.]

  27. Mark Cuschieri is obviously Made in Malta. Do they still let neolitihics like him run around the streets? There is no doubt that some and I repeat some PN supporters called Agatha Barbara xadina but is this not their Catholic way of undermining anyone who has the balls to challenge the rubbish that they say they stand for? A party for and of the church? My bloody foot! In one single blow – entry into the EU – they not only destroyed the country’s economy but also the Catholic Church in Malta. True, entry into the EU was inevitable but it was badly managed. http://www.queermalta.com.

  28. Joseph Carmel Chetcuti ..name calling is not a crime…that is my whole point..and it should remain so..freedom of speech. when I was young I was teased for being short while others for being tall ..so what…everyone sees you the way they see you ..and no law can change that. However even if in my opinion I find queers fondling each other disgusting..I Never i repeat never went out for gay bashing..I might have used some gay jokes I admit tough during my lifetime. but to say we are all equal is outragoues..no-one is equal..but we are all made of the same matter yes we are all human. And everyone should be criticized according to his own merits.

    • @Mark Cuschieri The language you use in describing other human beings merely because they are different from you shows you for what you are – a badly educated and bigotted human being. From your writing, it is clear you have not gone past a bare minimum of education. Freedom of speech is never absolute. That is why there is such a thing as defamation law. If I were to attribute your comments to the “fact” that you are a latent homosexual (which I am not doing), you may well have a “cause of action”. Furthermore, I would probably find the sight of you fondling anything or anyone equally disgusting but what business is it of mine as long as you enjoy what you do? Reducing gay and lesbian love to sexual acts is ample proof that it is you who is in the gutter. No one is asking you to engage in any what you consider disgusting behaviour. If you are heterosexual (and I have no proof of this) and have or will have children who turn out to be gay or lesbian, I hope you will have greater respect towards them than you currently have towards gay men and lesbians. Remember that we are everywhere.

  29. A.L. says:

    Daphne: It’s funny how you make a living with insults and unrefined descriptions. You make a valid point (outcome of the survey) and taint it with political partialities. Whatever makes you happy! I hope my future is as bright (or dull?) as yours.

    Best regards.

  30. josephine vella says:

    Agatha lacked femininity but no one could imply that she’s a lesbian unless you know her personally. Why are the Maltese so worried about have a lesbian prime minister. So what? Homophobia?

    [Daphne – You are the one who appears worried about it. She was definitely a lesbian, and I don’t consider that an insult. Do you?]

  31. josephine vella says:

    I’m not worried at all about Agatha Barbara being a lesbian. Every human being has his own sexuality and it was her right to be lesbian. Even a lesbian prime minister doesn’t worry me at all as long as she performs her duties well. What do I care? But what makes you so sure that Agatha Barbara was a lesbian? Where did you get this information from?

    [Daphne – Uuuuuhhhmmmm, let’s see now. How about observation? Any woman that masculine is going to be homosexual – plus, she had two girlfriends, one installed in a house in Malta and the other installed in a house in Gozo.]

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