Tuesday, 1 December 2009

MaltaToday: The power of the throne [Interview with the new PN's President]

29.11.9 [Excerpt of the interview. Click on the hyperlink above to read the complete article.]

Paula Mifsud Bonnici’s ambitious pursuit of a political career recently landed her the position of President of the PN General Council, after garnering almost double of Ian Castaldi Paris’ votes. But has she just earned herself a fancy title? Interview by DAVID DARMANIN


In Gonzi’s counter reply to the 2010 budget speech, he clearly included separated couples as the “vulnerable in society”. As the time may be ripe for the PN dignitaries to take the bull by its horns on divorce, the subject risks becoming an issue come the next general elections. Mifsud Bonnici tries to find the middle ground with her position on divorce. Will voters and PN grassroots buy it?

“I agree that one must take into account present circumstances. However, at the end of the day we must not forget our principles. We must also remember that, as a nation, we are mostly Roman Catholics. At the same time, we must realise that the situation for separated couples is difficult but we should not think of divorce as the solution.

“We need to be conscious of the pain some people are going through by creating the proper mechanisms. If there is a system that does not work, we need to improve it. There is nothing wrong in people getting remarried after separating. Let us not forget that annulment is an option that both the church and the state provide for. There is obviously room for improvement in the practicality of it. There is a huge backlog for instance, and I do not think it is fair for couples to pass through the ordeal of waiting for so long after they would have just passed through another ordeal while separating.

“There are grounds in annulment which directly relate to marriage situations. For example: one of the grounds for annulment is the lack of capability to assume marriage responsibility, meaning that if your husband returns home every night at 3am, it could be already considered as one of the grounds for annulment. This is not to say that sometimes, the interpretation of annulment laws might be too strict. In any case, I do not feel that divorce should be the solution – as we would be risking a situation where couples enter marriages with the idea that the tie can be dissolved. Annulment, on the other hand, proves that there was never a marriage.
“However, there must be a collective effort to ensure that marriages do not break down. Wider discussion will surely have to take place sooner or later.”

The PL has recently created a committee dedicated entirely to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. In contrast, the Malta Gay Rights Movement had said that PN was the least party inclined to legislate in favour of gay minorities: such as equal access to goods and services or kinship rights, among others.

“The PN is already discussing this issue internally. We did not form a committee, but this does not mean that there is no discussion. I disagree with the idea that the PN is the least party inclined to favour gay minorities. We might need to be more open in our discussions – as well as including the ideas of all concerned, including minorities. This would be very healthy.”


[Nota minn P. Attard: Kemm ħa ddumu tiddiskutu?! Ilkom aktar minn 10 snin twegħdu drittijiet għal min jikkoabita]

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