Monday, 10 January 2011

Times: Casting the first stone
Tuesday, 4th January 2011 by Kenneth Zammit Tabona

Amid all the dire news items about car bombs, flooding, freezing and general mayhem came the an­nouncement of the birth of Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John to none other than world famous pop star Sir Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish. Zachary was born in California on Christmas Day to a surrogate mother whose name will remain forever undisclosed.

Although adoption of children by same-sex couples has become pretty commonplace in certain countries in others, and by that I do not mean the Third World ones but supposedly enlightened and civilised ones like Malta, this sort of thing is inconceivable as yet and, given what a long time the facts that necessitate mere divorce are taking to sink in, can you just imagine what a long way there is yet to go before the legalisation of adoption by same-sex couples will take? Not that the law cannot be circumvented in some way but what happened in Malta in the 1970s put paid to any attempt by a single childless person like myself ever contemplating legal adoption.

Two great inheritances, the Strickland and Francia, then were up for grabs. John Francia adopted Bill Fenton while Mabel Strickland was seriously contemplating doing the same with a great nephew. Dom Mintoff, smelling a windfall, changed the law before Miss Strickland could put her plan into effect. The result is a long and fraught saga which, thank goodness (and the late President Emeritus Guido de Marco), resulted in The Times retaining its integrity and independence. However, at that time, things could have easily gone awry!

Single people today, let alone gay couples, find it relatively impossible to adopt.

Although I am gay and in my 50s, I do not feel I either want to marry anyone still less adopt anyone. What annoys me is that, even if I wanted to, I cannot do it as Maltese law prohibits me, as a single man, to adopt a child. However, I have been informed that for a single woman it is actually possible. This brings me to the troglodytic comments on The Times online pertaining to the birth announcement of Zachary Furnish-John. Most of the men who commented deplored the fact this child will be brought up without a mother but by two fathers simply because that is what early gendering had branded on our brain. In today’s world, children are brought up by parents and not a mother and father with defined roles. That went out the window in the 1960s.
Today’s mothers work and the household chores in addition to the raising of children are shared equally. Today’s man about the house is not the stereotyped king of the castle of the 1950s who comes home to find a loving wife dressed to the nines, holding his slippers and with delicious aromas coming from the kitchen after she has been scrubbing and polishing, peeling and casseroling all day. The children used to be either put to bed already or were on the way to be. Children in those days barely knew their father.

Today, that way of life has disappeared totally and, although some men may still harbour the illusion that their marriage ought to be just so, they have another thing coming. Male and female roles within a marriage have become blurred, apart from the basic biological one, of course, and, therefore, in modern society the life of baby Zachary will not be very different from any other child apart from the fact, of course, that baby Zachary will be very, very rich and with Elizabeth Hurley and a host of glitterati waiting in a queue like the fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty to shower him with all the good things possible.

As time marches on, waiting for nobody and no one, more and more gay people realise they have only one life and there really is very little point in denying their sexuality in a western world that has become pretty blasé about it. For, in reality, this is no recent phenomenon but has been part of man’s intrinsic make-up from the time that Darwin’s apes looked around them and made themselves the princes of creation. We are today less hypocritical about what constitutes a relationship and understand far more than we ever did how the other half lives. There is no reason today to live a sad, lonely and fraught double life because, unofficially, society as a whole, with a few exceptions, has become very accepting.

Hitherto childless couples are resorting more and more to having children by IVF, which the Church has not accepted. People get separated and find new partners all the time despite the fact that unless a Church annulment is obtained there is no way to legalise the second union. The Church has its rules and regulations, yes, however the country, the state, has no right to impose the rules and regulations of a particular religion, or any religion at all for that matter, on all its citizens. The Archbishop has long ago said he is not against separation of Church and state.

Let’s hope that 2011 will bring a greater mutual understanding and will eradicate the type of blind intolerance that has so far coloured the lay and not clerical anti-divorce lobby. I am optimistically confident we can and will sort all this out and bring about a society that understands people’s individual needs and will stop acting like those Pharisees who brought the “adulteress” to Christ who told them: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He then wrote in the dust. Nobody knows what He wrote but every single man there put down his rock and slunk away.

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

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