Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Times: Referendum would endanger minority rights

Monday, 31st January 2011 by Albert Gauci Cunningham, Buġibba

What a load of nonsense all this talk of a referendum on divorce is! I simply can’t fathom when the Maltese are going to start seeing things for what they really are rather than parroting every single word their politicians utter.

The Prime Minister and the Opposition leader are simply shirking their political responsibilities. It is their duty not mine to ensure that this country enjoys laws that place everyone on an equal footing. Their responsibility as taken by oath is not to go around their party clubs every Sunday preaching to the converted about social justice but to prompt serious, public discussions after which they determine laws which, in reality, reflect their much-touted “social justice”. If they’re going to run to the people petrified of every hurdle and quandary they face then they might as well scrap elections altogether.

Let’s imagine that today is referendum day. You go to the polling booths and see queues of nuns, priests and monks, some of who have been closed up in a convent for decades and all of who have never married. What politicians are telling us is that these thousands of religious people are going to decide for a battered wife and will dictate what a broken family should or shouldn’t do, not out of first-hand experience but solely because of a quote in a book written by an Apostle.

These are joined by hundreds of old people who have already lived their life to the full and whose spouses, in many cases, have passed on. These people, God bless them, are about to dictate what a young woman whose marriage has hit the rocks should do. Unbelievable but true!

Then we’ll have the thousands of others who speak from a pulpit, the ones whose marriage is a success and is encountering no huge hurdles and who couldn’t care less whether their vote will worsen the situation for so many others. So long as they throw intelligent sound-bites and terrify their audience with fire and brimstone and talk to us about the beauty of marriage (as if anyone doubts that) then all’s fine and dandy in the land of milk and honey.

The selfishness is breathtaking. And it is precisely on this that a referendum on divorce “feeds” − selfishness and the horribly wrong and very Maltese perception that I have a God-given right to be nosy and tell others how to live their life. That quoting the Bible puts me a notch above the masses and that gives me the right to say no for those who’d like another chance in life.

Read well and never forget: Minority rights are never for sale and those politicians who “burn” these rights on the altar of populism should all hang their heads in shame! Nowhere in the world, not in Italy, not in Zimbabwe and neither in China, has this right been introduced through a popular vote. But in this Catholic state, where politicians are a bunch of spineless opportunists held at ransom by every Ċikku and Ċikka who think their participation in the festa gives them some authority over others, we do things differently. This referendum will set a dangerous precedent for all other minority rights.

Just imagine how long gay people would have to wait if their rights had to be settled by a popular vote.

Everyone gets what they deserve and so long as we accept everything thrown at us by politicians who feed on human greed then we don’t deserve anything more than remaining the laggard of Europe where the majority tramples over the minority. But so long as we have EU flags dotting our country then I guess we think we’re more European than Alcide Di Gasperi.

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


  1. A excellent piece, and all very true.

  2. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    Sorry for Dr Attard, but to say the truth, in Italy divorce was introduced through a referendum, as well as abortion.
    Correct information is the first step towards civil rights. I wonder why you are so sceptic about a popular vote.
    Sandra from Italy