Interviewed by Joanna Demarco and published in Guide Me Malta in December 2018.
Frustrated by the state of politics in Malta, Mina Tolu has decided to move back to Malta from Berlin and run for the MEP elections with Alternattiva Demokratika (AD).
“There is a lack of young and non-male voices for starters,” Mina says, when asked about their decision (‘they’ is the pronoun used to mention gender non-conforming individuals). “There is also a general lack of politicians, but also simply candidates, who champion human rights and environmental justice. Many of our voices are not being represented by the current set of politicians, and I will be part of changing that.”
“One way or another, when it comes to the big parties, I always feel like you need to compromise something that matters to you,” they said, passionately. “Both human rights and the environment mean so much to me,” says Mina, when asked to list the issues they are most passionate about, more specifically, “defending the right of asylum and fighting climate change. These will be defining topics of this campaign and our times.”
“defending the right of asylum and fighting climate change. These will be defining topics of this campaign and our times.”Mina Tolu
Mina’s big step into politics is their next move after almost a decade of activism. In 2010, forming part of the local LGBTQI community, Mina helped create the student organisation ‘We Are’ at the University of Malta, a group which represented LGBTQI youth and students. “We felt that there was a missing voice on campus but also wanted to contribute to the national discussions on LGBTQI issues,” they said. “Through ‘We Are’, I got to meet with international LGBTQI activists and and to eventually join the board of IGLYO – the International LGBTQI Youth & Student Organisation.”
Mina’s activism, however, didn’t stop at human rights. Their concern with environmental issues pushed them to join BirdLife Malta in 2014, where they took on the role of Campaign Coordinator for the national referendum campaign against spring hunting, working with BirdLife Malta and 12 other local environmental NGOs, as well as AD for the first time.
Between 2015 and 2018, Mina has also been working with Transgender Europe (TGEU) in Berlin, whilst keeping close to Malta by organising community discussions at Malta Pride, as well as supporting We Are.
Being a strong voice within Malta’s LGBTQI community, I ask Mina whether they feel like now is a good time to have an LGBTQI individual representing the community within the EU, given Malta’s milestone legislation in the field. “Do I feel like this is a good time?” Mina asks, “yes, but because it is always a good time. It is not about where Malta stands at the moment and having LGBTIQ candidates is not about raising awareness about LGBTIQ issues either. It is also a good time because we need to have a plurality of voices and representatives at all levels of society.”Going to back to Mina’s decision to take this step to contest, they narrate how some people have called them ‘brave’ for taking such a decision.
“You know what? Maybe I am brave. And perhaps it is time that we all are”Mina Tolu
“You know what? Maybe I am brave. And perhaps it is time that we all are,” Mina stated. “Let’s be brave. Let’s vote for representatives who stick to their principles and champion human rights! Let’s elect people who will introduce policies that will actually make a difference against climate change! There is no time like the present for this, and this is why I am a candidate for Alternattiva Demokratika for the European Elections.”