Sunday, 25 July 2010

Times: Cohabitation law is 'insult' to gay lobby

Some 300 gay rights activists attended the march in Valletta. Photo: Alan Carville.

Holding rainbow-coloured balloons, placards and scarves, gay rights activists yesterday marched through Valletta and demanded equal treatment by being allowed to have legally recognised families.

"It is still not clear whether the upcoming cohabitation legislation will provide protection to same-sex couples and their children," said Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the Malta Gay Rights Movement.

She said the cohabitation law, set to be enacted by the end of the year, appeared to put same-sex couples in the same basket as relatives, siblings and friends living together.

"This is an insult to those of us who chose to live in a loving, committed relationship," she told a crowd who braved the sweltering morning heat to participate in the annual Gay Pride Parade.

Ms Calleja said that President George Abela and the chairman of the Parliament's Social Affairs' Committee, Edwin Vassallo, had said that same-sex couples and their children were excluded from the traditional definition of family.

"Time and again, reference is made to the nuclear family defined as a married, heterosexual couple and their children," she said, adding that this was "outrageous and insulting".

However, Nationalist MP David Agius, who marched with the crowd, said the cohabitation law would not draw distinctions. He added that while the rights of gay people had to be upheld, homosexuals too had to understand that they lived in a community whose beliefs must be respected.

His comments were greeted with disapproval from the crowd who, however, cheered the speech of Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Michael Briguglio who pledged the Green Party's support towards registered gay partnerships.

Politicians present for the event included Labour MP Evarist Bartolo, Nationalist MP Karl Gouder, and the president of the PN Executive Committee Marthese Portelli. German Liberal MEP Holger Krahmer was also present.

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

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