All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. It is a clear, direct and fundamental truth which we recognise and stand by. However, structural discrimination, the devastation left by an international pandemic and a concerning rise of right-wing politics in Europe leave us far from full and true equality in our day-to-day lives.
Being entrusted with such a crucial portfolio at this time is therefore not just an immense honour, for which I am grateful, but also a challenge, which I welcome wholeheartedly. It is our utmost determination as a government to build on our already considerable achievements so as to truly permit each and every person to realise his or her potential and in that way improve their quality of life, happiness and chances of personal growth.
I know first-hand how hard it is for some sectors of society to achieve upward social mobility and we want to make it better for present generations and future ones.
Our vision for this multifaceted sector is unequivocal: a people-centred approach that extends civil liberties to sectors of society which are historically marginalised or require focused attention. We aim to carry out reforms to shape a nation that is reflective of its society and ensures that minority rights are protected.
Central for the attainment of our vision are the public bodies responsible for its implementation, namely, the Human Rights Directorate, the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality and the Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence.
The tireless work of the people working in those entities leaves a tangible positive impact on the lives of people in our country.
I am determined to harness the expertise of these specialised entities to deliver policies and reforms that address existing inequalities in Malta.
We refuse to shy away from critical issues affecting individuals and communities in our society. In so many areas, we can and should strive for more. People know that this government has the courage and vision to push forward reforms which Nationalist administrations postponed for a long list of reasons.
This government has the courage and vision to push forward reforms which Nationalist administrations postponed– Owen Bonnici
We will prioritise the cannabis reform. In 2015, a Labour government took the courageous but much-needed step of making drug laws more humane insofar as genuine victims of drug abuse were concerned. Now, it is the time to focus our energies in overcoming the next challenge: that of delivering a more proportionate, just and fair legal set-up for those who make responsible use of cannabis. This government is a reformist government and will keep changing the status quo for the better.
Other reforms are also important. Prostitution, for instance, is high on the agenda with the aim being to protect vulnerable persons from exploitation, making existing legislation more reasonable and bolstering the fight against human trafficking. Our efforts against human trafficking will be prioritised: we will set up a national strategy which will be the cornerstone of our pledge to address concerns and make clear progress in combating this complex modern-day plague.
At the same time, through the Human Rights Directorate, we will design policies to mainstream gender equality and promote anti-racism and intercultural dialogue, while our world-leading efforts to guarantee LGBTIQ equality are maintained.
The ‘Equality 4 All in Malta’ project, which confronts the under-reporting of cases of discrimination based on race or ethnic origin, religion and belief, will be strengthened.
We believe in a tolerant, progressive Malta that embraces and celebrates difference, offers comprehensive access to rights and generates equal opportunity for all – without distinction.
Let’s together build the kind of Malta we believe in.
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