Friday, 15 May 2009

MaltaStar: Muscat calls for the State to protect homosexual couples

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Labour Leader Joseph Muscat has called for the introduction of civil partnership to protect homosexual and cohabitating couples.

Dr Muscat was addressing a social dialogue with a number of NGOs at the St James Cavallier in Valletta, on Thursday evening.

Bernard Muscat, spokesperson for the Malta Gay Rights Movement said that the Gay community was consciously and actively being ignored. “It is like we are invisible” he told Homosexuals couples are not recognized in Malta, with many of them feeling the system is failing to protect them. “We are asking for a civil recognition,” he added.

Dr Joseph Muscat said that the Labour Party has voted in favour of extending gay rights and against homophobia in the European Parliament, when the opportunity presented itself. It is easy to vote against resolutions and directives on gay rights on the grounds that the Church [Casa] or some other country [Busuttil - on Poland] is mentioned. However the message has to be clear: Equal rights for everyone, Muscat added.

“This is the reason why I believe that civil partnership should be introduced,” Muscat said.

At the moment, the system does not protect homosexual and unmarried heterosexual couples. It is both ethical and morally just to defend them, Labour leader added. Moreover, children born out of wedlock should not be discriminated against. Thus, laws have to be made to reflect the social situation of the country.

The problems faced by homosexuals and cohabitating couples are various, amongst which the non-recognition of the law when it comes to heredity.

During the rent reform, the Labour Party had moved a proposal to guarantee recognition for cohabitating couples, only to be voted against by the Gonzi administration, Muscat said.

The State’s place is not to be judgmental, but to legislate in the interest of the people, Muscat said. Minority groups had to be defended, even at the risk of losing popular votes.

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