Monday, 2 May 2011

Malta Today: ‘If need be, I will stand alone on divorce’ – Labour leader Joseph Muscat

1.5.2011 by Miriam Dalli

Labour leader Joseph Muscat after his speech

Forces are against this civil right, but if need be, I will stand alone because I believe in tolerance and compassion, says Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat.

Addressing thousands who gathered in Hamrun to commemorate Workers’ Day, Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat reiterated that family policy is not standing against divorce but working on policies which ease burdens.

“Less burdens, more qualitative work and planning the future is what family policy should be all about, and not standing against divorce,” Muscat said. “You all know my position: don’t let any party tell you what to do. It’s up to you and your conscience.”

Amidst clapping, shouting and chanting, Muscat said: “The Labour Party has taken a stand – it has let you decide what you want. But the party in government, a confessional party, is telling people how to vote.

“I encourage Lawrence Gonzi: you are still in time to tell your politicians they are not tied by your party’s decision. Let people decide and not them. It is a responsible divorce.”

Muscat said he believes in “European values” and that a country should be lead by politicians who believe in values of compassion and tolerance. “Even if they are a minority, these people count on us to give them the right of a new life,” he said, adding that a woman who is beaten by her husband deserves a second chance.

Muscat added it would have been easy for him to pressure PL members in voting in favour of divorce: “However, I did not for two reasons: the value of tolerance and being able to understand those who do not agree with you. The time to threaten is over.

“Secondly, the Labour Party is home to unity, home to those who want to bring change to this country. Many have advised me against speaking on divorce, but I entered this party with conviction. I will keep on believing in this civil right even though I’d have to stand alone.”

Whilst adding he will respect what people will vote, Muscat added that people who fought for what they thought was right even though the majority was against them “inspire him.” He recalled how in the past, the “minority” fought for women to gain their voting rights, for 18-year-olds to be able to vote, for those who wanted Malta to be independent, ruled by its own government, those who were against homosexuality listed as a crime.

Raising his voice emphatically, Muscat said: “Even if alone, I willl keep on fighting for the civil rights which our country needs to work on.”

“The greatest value which guides us is tolerance. Don’t let divorce separate our country. We are not going to take it against no one. One unity we were, we are and such we will remain,” he said, as the crowd cheered in approval and chanted “Viva l-Labour”.

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