16 September 2023
Role models and representation (Maltese Parliament)
On the day of the 2023 EuroPride parade in Malta, I was invited to speak in the Maltese parliament during the hearing on the importance of role models and representation. On those who inspire me time and time again to fight for LGBTQIA+ and human rights.
And thank you very much for the invitation
I am often introduced as a role model for the LGBTQI+ community. And I have to admit – sometimes it makes me feel like an imposter. Because I didn’t really do anything to be called one - I just exist. And I do what I do: I am a doctor, a minister, a wife, a daughter, a friend, an employer, a bon vivant.
And of course, I know why I’m referred to as a role model. I accept that task (and burden) with pleasure: it’s a great honor - because it allows me to make a difference for others. It still humbles me, every time.
But I would also like to take this opportunity to draw attention to the people who are not always at the forefront, but make a great difference in the everyday life of a lot of people. And I have had the pleasure of meeting some of these people over the past few years.
I think, for example, of the volunteers at the Pride info center in Belgrade. Despite the attacks on their office, and despite the fact that the Serbian government initially prohibited the EuroPride parade last year, they remained present. To provide a second home for LGBTQI+ Serbians.
I also think of Ahmad Joudeh, a ballet dancer, who grew up as a stateless refugee. He always refused to stop dancing against all norms and now he is a great role model to many LGBTQI+ refugees.
I think of the Hungarian young people who visited my office and told me how they stand their ground in their country, despite the anti-LGBTQI+ laws their government is implementing.
They are my role models. Their bravery inspires me endlessly, their actions are changing lives, and their commitment gives me energy to keep on fighting for LGBTQI+ rights. If it wasn’t for people like them, we wouldn’t be standing here today.
But we must also be aware that no achievement is forever - and we must continue to fight for equal rights.
Because once again, we see that our rights and our security are under pressure. When representation increases, we see that some backlash occurs as well. The far right is clearly intimidated by the fact that we are finally taking up the space we deserve. They like it better when we are invisible, silent.
And that may sound terrifying, that might make you feel unfortable, insercure or scared.
But if I can give one message to whoever needs to hear it out there: you are not alone - and you will never be alone in your struggle. You can count on me, the ballet dancer, the Serbian volunteers, the Hungarian youth and many, many others. We’ve always found strength in our togetherness. As long as we keep on doing that, we will keep on winning hearts and minds.
Have an exuberant Europride. Thank you very much.