Fear of the Vaccine

An increasing number people in Malta are refusing to take the vaccine against the H1N1 virus. This is worrying, very worrying. I won’t enter the specific merits and dangers of the virus or the vaccine but the socio-political connotations of this.

Let’s face it. Like many other Europeans, many Maltese are losing their faith completely in elected politicians. While this can lead to more serious things such as civil unrest in the longer run, it is having also immediate consequences. The scepticism about the vaccine is one of them.

What many are asking is: Has the vaccine been tested enough? Is there a lot of scaremongering about H1N1 just to sell a product? In whose interest is the vaccine being given? Those of the pharmaceutical industry (one of the most notorious on an International basis) or mine and my health?

The BWSC saga definitely doesn’t help. Allegations (of corruption) on their own may mean nothing in a Court of Law. In the Court of Public Opinion it is different matter. Many people have strong suspicions, or even certainty that public interest (our health, environment and tax money) has been compromised for the profit of the few.

It seems that even having elected MPs taking the vaccine in front of a camera is not enough to convince people to trust authorities that the chemical injected in their body is in their own interest.

Do you blame such people when they’ve been lied to over and over?

The Difficult Road to Equality

Around the world, a percentage of the population are transgender since they feel that the sex that was assigned to them at birth is not congruent with their gender they identify with. Malta and Gozo are no different than the rest of the world, and a small percentage of the population have difficulty with identifying with the sex that corresponds to their sexual organs.

In 1994, the Maltese Law Courts introduced the possibility if changing one’ sex on the official documents if a person who suffered from gender identity disorder had undergone irreversible sex reassignment. A number of transgender persons requested this change in documents by going to court and after presenting a certificate of the irreversible surgery, a medical expert is appointed by the court to physically examine the person verify the surgical procedure. This in itself continues to discriminate against post-operative transgender persons because it violates their human dignity and does not allow the possibility of self-identification.

Since 2008, I have accompanied Joanne Cassar to court for her Constitutional Court Case against the Public Registry where she is requesting for her right to marry a person of the opposite gender. After two years of court sittings’, deferred sessions, a psychological profile assessment, and sitting at the back of the court room in support towards Joanne and many other transgender persons ….finally a judgement was called.

Throughout these two years, I was without a doubt that the Public Registry had violated Joanne’s human right when her marriage bans were not issued. The strong belief did not come about from thin air, but it is based on the fact that the European Court of Justice had already ruled a judgement in favour of a transgender person from the United Kingdom, and the benefits of being a citizen of an EU member state is that such a judgement cannot be disregarded in the member states.

It is every person’s human right to choose to marry and form a family, and this is enshrined in the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights. Should the Public Registry appeal this recent decision taken by Judge Ray Pace , the case continues for the final stage of appeal at the Maltese Constitutional Court, however European Court of Justice case law cannot continue being ignored by the Maltese State and although the path to victory may be longer, the result is positive for my friend Joanne and the members of the Maltese Transgender Community.

 

Colette Farrugia Bennett