Friday, 4 June 2010

Times: Parliamentary committee discusses gay rights
Thursday, 3rd June 2010 - 08:24CET; David Schembri

What happens in the bedroom is, up to a point, the government's business, because it often had to solve problems caused there, the chairman of the House Social Affairs Committee, Edwin Vassallo said.

Speaking during a sitting on Tuesday where the Malta Gay Rights Movement gave a presentation to the committee on the situation of homosexuals and transgender individuals in Malta, Mr Vassallo said: "What we're learning in this committee is that what happens in the bedroom often ends up before the state to do something about it." As examples, he cited single parents and teenage pregnancies.

The MGRM's Gabi Calleja presented to the committee a 2008 report detailing problems gay people faced in Malta.

One of the major topics was the issue of homosexual couples and children. Even though Malta did not allow adoption by gay couples, Ms Calleja said "we're creative and still find a way to have children". These methods included surrogacy, artificial insemination and IVF and also intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.

However, since the other partner would not be listed as the biological or legal parent of the child, there could be problems when it came to a member of the couple accompanying the child on a trip and on parents' day, even though the child would have been raised by one of the couple.

It was for this reason that the MGRM was calling for second parent adoption, among other things, including gay marriage.

Mr Vassallo made his comments in reaction to Labour MP Anthony Zammit's reiteration of Labour leader Joseph Muscat's statement that it was not for the state to care what happened in the bedroom.

Prof. Zammit said Malta still had a long way to go in civil rights for homosexuals and that discussion on the topic had to be open to marriage and civil partnership for gays. "I am happy to say that I have a lot of gay friends," Prof. Zammit said, adding he was never ashamed to be seen with them.

The idea of gays forming a "family" found a fair amount of resistance from Nationalist MPs Beppe Fenech Adami and Mr Vassallo.

Dr Fenech Adami asked the MGRM representatives whether in homosexual couples there were "mother and father roles". In his and his wife's experience, Dr Fenech Adami said, when they tried filling each other's role the results weren't that good.

However, the gay rights activists contested the question, asking what sort of roles these were.

Mr Vassallo said he was not sure about the use of the word "family" to refer to homosexual couples, defending President George Abela's comments on the family earlier this year, which had sparked outrage by the MGRM.

Mr Vassallo said MGRM seemed to be denying the natural origins of the family, which can only occur when a man and woman procreate. He also asked the group whether they could provide the committee with any research showing that children brought up by same-sex parents were not affected negatively by the arrangement.

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

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