It is not just the sea that separates Malta and its sister island.
A study by a Gozitan student has concluded that Gozitan lesbians end up having to live in Malta because of the pressures they are subjected to by their families and by the Gozitan communities.
During the nearly 20 years of her life in Gozo, Graziella Scerri had never met any homosexual persons, and had also never learnt about this subject. Graziella, who has now lived in Malta for 14 years, got her inspiration from this reality in Gozo and chose the subject of Gozitan lesbian youths for her thesis.
Graziella’s research shows the great divide that exists between the Gozitan and the Maltese mentality.
“When certain lesbians ‘came out’ with their friends, these friends ostracized them, as they could not accept being in the company of women who were lesbians.”
Many Gozitan lesbians ended up coming to live in Malta, as they felt they were not accepted in Gozo.
The island of Gozo does not accept these people. There are hardly any bars or meeting places for them. Actually, there are none.
It emerged from this study that, apart from taking a long time to become aware of themselves, Gozitan lesbians found it difficult to confide in their parents, as among other issues, Gozitans are still very traditional, and as far as they are concerned, marriage in only between man and woman.
“There was also a two-year span when they did not speak to each other, and very often they did not accept their children, even if, for example, they had a girl friend. It was difficult for the fathers to speak with them, because of their religious values,” Graziella explained.
Of all the lesbian youths Graziella interviewed, one particular case stands out.
“One participant was even subjected to attacks on social media by members of her own family, and this happens when the parents take it badly, particularly the mothers.”
This stigma is also prevalent at places of work in Gozo.
Graziella added that “clients who would be aware or have doubts about whether a person is gay, seem to be afraid and hold back from being served by these members of this minority.”
Graziella feels that children should be taught about this diversity and sexuality from a young age.
“Why should a family always consist of man and woman? I believe this should also come from educators who should start from a young age, that a family can be man and woman, woman and woman and man and man,” Graziella added.
Graziella stated that although on paper progress has been made on the rights of the LGBTIQ community, more still remains to be done to overcome the discrimination in regard to this minority.