Friday, 4 June 2010

Times: 'Government must point out consequences of private decisions'
Friday, 4th June 2010; David Schembri

The government "can never and should never interfere" in one's private life, however, it had a role to inform people of the consequences of their private decisions, Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo said.

Mr Vassallo was clarifying comments he made on Tuesday during a meeting of the Social Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, where he had said that even what went on between the sheets assumed a public dimension when the problems that choices caused ended up before the state.

"I tend to say that not all that is private can remain private because the state is often expected to pay for it," he said during the meeting.

The Labour Party reacted to Mr Vassallo's comments, saying he had declared outright that the "government should interfere in the bedroom" and accused the Nationalist Party of not really believing in civil rights.

Mr Vassallo turned the criticism on Labour, accusing it of misquoting a report on the meeting that appeared on The Times yesterday and using it to gain political mileage. He said the party was using words such as liberal and progressive only to deceive people.

He insisted that all he had in mind was making people aware of the "costs" of choices that were made in the private domain. And this belief, he added, was based on his experience on the committee. He said it was the government's duty to raise such awareness.

He said that even though he might be criticised as being conservative or not liberal, he was the one to invite the Malta Gay Rights Movement to the committee. "As a chairman from the PN I invited them because I thought that, since we were discussing these issues, we could not ignore them."

At that meeting, the committee was given a presentation by the Malta Gay Rights Movement on a 2008 report on the situation of gay people living in Malta.

At the meeting, Mr Vassallo raised issues in connection with whether gay couples raising children could be termed as a family and who assumed the role of the mother and father in gay parenthood.

Mr Vassallo said yesterday the matter was brought up in order to shed more light on the issue, adding that the probing was based on findings contained in the committee's fourth report, which found that children living without a father were more at risk of having psychological and emotional problems at school and in socialising, for instance.

Regarding whether children brought up by a homosexual couple were worse off than children brought up by heterosexual parents, Mr Vassallo said he was still waiting for a reply on behalf of the MGRM as "experts" on the topic to present him with what studies said on the matter.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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