Sunday, 17 April 2011

Times: Comparison to nazisim draws strong reaction in divorce debate

Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 20:29

There were strong reactions during a divorce debate this evening when the views of the 'no' lobby on 'the common good' were likened to the views of the Nazi Party and, later, when the introduction of divorce was linked to the introduction of abortion and same sex marriage.

The sharp exchanges were made during a Today Debate on Divorce, which was chaired by Roger deGiorgio.

The reference to the Nazi Party was made by former Labour MEP candidate Marlene Mizzi, who said that the Nazi Party used to hold that the common good came over individual rights, a view which, she said, was similar to the view of those who opposed divorce.

Austin Bencini, who opposes divorce, objected strongly to reference to the Nazi Party being made in this context, and said the argument did not apply. He said that in Malta, individual rights were protected in the context of fundamental human rights. Divorce, however, was not a fundamental right.

Later in the discussion, Joyce Cassar, who also opposes divorce, asked if minority issues should be tackled in the same way as the possible introduction of divorce was being considered. Would minority issues such as abortion and same-sex marriages also be considered in this way?

Deborah Schembri, chairman of the Divorce Movement, said the issue was about the introduction of divorce, which had absolutely nothing to do with abortion.
Those taking part in the discussion also argued about the provisions of the Divorce Bill, particularly the concept of 'no fault divorce'.

Ms Cassar said that had the Bill been different, providing for consensual divorce with valid reason or consequences for the spouse who caused a marriage to fail, she might not be campaigning in this way.

Dr Schembri said she agreed with the 'no fault' concept as it was not fair that somebody could prevent somebody else from getting divorced, just out of pique - holding on to the illusion of a marriage which had broken down for more than four years. Still, people who got divorced would still have the option not to re-marry, if they wished.

Marlene Mizzi said divorce would benefit the children from the second marriage, giving them stability. She said that children born out of wedlock were sometimes bullied and stigmatised

Dr Bencini said it was not legal to discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate children. Caselaw also said there should not be such a distinction.

Dr Schembri said the law still made distinctions in some case, such as inheritance in the case of a psrent not having a will.

The discussion also heard several comments from the audience, many of them pointing, emotionally to the problems they faced after their marriage broke down and they could not remarry.

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

[Read transcript on Malta Today's website.]

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