Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Times: Civil rights should not be decided by referenda - Alfred Sant

Saturday, April 16, 2011, 11:16

Divorce is a civil right and civil rights should not be decided by a referendum, former Labour leader Alfred Sant said this morning.

Speaking on Radju Malta's programme Ghandi x'Nghid, Dr Sant said that his government had embarked on a genuine attempt to strengthen Maltese families between 1996 and 1998.

This attempt had also included the consideration of divorce for when marriages
failed. This had led to a major campaign against him "but life goes on," Dr Sant said.

He stressed that divorce was a civil right and it was a mistake that the issue had come to a referendum.

The decision, he said, should have been taken by Parliament.

"If it is a civil right what you or I think is irrelevant... Minority rights have to be respected," Dr Sant said.

He said that he had never agreed with referenda as a way of taking decisions.

It was the government which should decide on matters relating to civil rights. He said he had also not agreed when his party had promised a referendum on divorce in its 1998 electoral manifesto. However, he had accepted the majority decision within his party.

Earlier in the programme, Dr Sant also said that he did not agree with censorship in general although he did agree there should be censorship on certain issues, such as child pornography and racial discrimination.

He said he did not agree with the position taken by the University rector in the Alex Vella Gera novel issue pointing out that the university should be a haven of research and free debate.

What had happened, he said, showed that the university was still bound to old systems which were very restrictive. This should not be the case.

Dr Sant criticised the way Parliament was working since Malta became a member of the EU.

"Instead of being policy makers, we are turning into policy takers," he said saying that Maltese parlamentariants were not being proactive enough.

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

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