Sunday, 17 July 2011

Times: Gatt: Candidates should declare position on same-sex marriages, abortion and euthanasia

Monday, July 11, 2011, 22:00

Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt said today that it would be better if candidates standing for the forthcoming general elections were asked by the people what their views were on same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia.

Speaking in Parliament during the Divorce debate, Dr Gatt said one would have to be short-sighted if he did not see that the next steps after divorce, would be efforts to introduce same-sex marriages, abortion and euthanasia.

Matters would go quiet before the election, but during that time, it would be better if candidates declared their position, he said. In that way, the people would not be in for a surprise by MPs who might, after the election, propose abortion in certain circumstances, such as after rape.
In his short speech, Dr Gatt said his position against divorce was well known and he had not heard anything to change his view. His beliefs were not based on religion, although he was Catholic. His views on matters of conscience and morality were from the lay, not confessional aspects.

In parliament, one normally acted on the basis of his political party's policies. MPs were elected from the party list and observed the whip. Yet most of what MPs voted for in parliament was often not in election programmes. Constituents, therefore, trusted them to represent their views on matters about which they were never consulted.

On matters which were not political, he felt MPs had a duty to give weight to what the party said, but they had, especially, to give weight to an informed conscience and act for what was good for society, Dr Gatt said.

He would not judge others as long as they acted on the basis of their personal beliefs, but he also expected others not to judge.

On all matters, and especially conscience, the decision should not be based on what suited MPs personally but the common good of society.

Some claimed that divorce was a civil right and people who were against divorce should not impose on those who were in favour, Dr Gatt observed. But, he insisted, civil rights existed only when they were recognised by Parliament, not like human rights which were automatic.
Up to some time ago, adultery and homosexual behaviour were considered a crime. It was Parliament that decriminalised them in the interests of society. All those countries who approved same-sex marriage said it was a civil right. The same arguments were made about abortion and euthanasia, with some saying about abortion that a woman had a right over her body.

Therefore, one would be short sighted if one did not recognise that on the basis of the same arguments, the next steps in Malta would be efforts to introduce same sex marriages, abortion and euthanasia.

Before the next election MPs should declare their position so that the people would not elect candidates when they did not know how they would act on certain issues – such as by proposing abortion as a right in cases of rape. Candidates, he said, should be clear.

Dr Gatt said he could never back something which was against society and because of growing relativism in society.

He had learned these lessons from Eddie Fenech Adami, who taught him to be loyal to his principles, to fight for the truth, and stand by the truth. MPs should always seek the truth rather than being popular.

Dr Gatt said he would vote against divorce, in line with his conscience. He would respect those who voted yes, but he would take no lessons from the Opposition, whose MPs in the EU referendum had insisted they won when they lost.

Furthermore, the PN had wanted the Divorce Bill debate to come before the referendum so that the people would know what they were voting for. It was the Labour Party which changed its position and imposed the referendum, because it knew that some of its MPs would have voted against in Parliament. Therefore it was unfair to claim that the PN had wanted the referendum first.

Concluding, Dr Gatt said he respected the referendum outcome, but he would vote against the Bill on the basis of his conscience in the interests of society.

Nationalist MPs Mario Galea and Clyde Puli, who spoke after Dr Gatt, also warned that the introduction could be the start of a slippery slope for society in other areas such as abortion under claims of civil rights.

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