In a landmark moment that resonated far beyond the halls of the Maltese Parliament, Cyrus Engerer and Randolph De Battista, a couple and two prominent LGBTQ+ figures in Maltese politics, became the first gay couple to deliver speeches in the Maltese Parliament.
Their heartfelt and inspiring addresses served as a testament to the progress made in Malta on LGBTQ+ rights and the work that still lies ahead.
MEP Cyrus Engerer began by acknowledging the skepticism they faced when they initially proposed the idea of discussing LGBTQ+ rights in the parliament. Despite those doubts, they successfully gathered legislators to engage in a dialogue about change.
Engerer’s speech was particularly moving when he addressed the situation in Uganda, where LGBTQ+ individuals face threats and violence due to the deeply entrenched hatred and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. He applauded Ugandan legislators who had the courage to speak up against such hatred and thanked them for their bravery.
Emotions ran high during Engerer’s speech as he reflected on the progress made. He reminded the audience of a time when LGBTQ+ individuals could not openly be themselves and faced such despair that some took their own lives. Engerer highlighted that they were marching not just for themselves but also for those who could not. This poignant message culminated in a standing ovation, symbolising the collective support for the LGBTQ+ community’s journey towards equality.
MP Randolph De Battista began by stating that this was his favorite day in Parliament, a day that marked progress and inclusivity.
De Battista recounted a significant event he had recently attended: a screening of the film ‘Who I Am Not,’ which told the story of two intersex youths raised in Africa. After the movie, during a Q&A session, someone expressed the joy of being able to walk the streets of Valletta, hand in hand with their partner, without fear. De Battista acknowledged that there was a time in Malta when such a simple act was impossible, and he drew parallels to the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in Uganda following the passage of oppressive laws.
As the only openly gay Member of Parliament in Malta, De Battista shared his experiences of being different and discriminated against. He emphasised the importance of offering a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth who confide in him, drawing on his own experiences.
De Battista’s speech also touched on the prevalence of hate and homophobia, revealing a personal encounter with hate mail that he cleverly defused with humor. He decried the amount of hatred in society and called out politicians who perpetuate hate. He defended the need for pride marches as a means of countering hate with messages of love and hope.
In closing, De Battista emphasised the historic significance of the day, with a room filled with LGBTQ+ politicians and legislators working toward change. He encouraged everyone not to listen to conservative voices, celebrating Malta’s journey from “zero to hero” in LGBTQ+ rights.
The speeches by Cyrus Engerer and Randolph De Battista marked a milestone in the Maltese Parliament’s ongoing commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Their messages of hope, love, and progress reverberated not only throughout Malta but also served as a beacon for the ongoing global struggle for LGBTQ+ rights.