Sunday, 17 July 2011

Times: 'Maltese marriage no longer what it seems'
Thursday, July 7, 2011

The divorce referendum unmasked hypocrisy and confirmed that Maltese marriage was no longer what it seemed, government back-bencher Frans Agius said in Parliament on Tuesday. Nobody could deny that much better, more serious preparation for marriage was needed to prevent break-ups, rather than seek to repair the damage through divorce.

The culture of a small country where everybody knew everybody else disguised a reality to which there was more than met the eye. If broken marriages had not existed, the House would not have been debating divorce. Marital problems were all too often swept under the carpet.

All MPs had decided to contest the election in 2008 without any inkling of divorce on the horizon. He had felt let down when divorce had raised its head the way it had.
It was not a question of him changing his opinion because of anything that had happened recently. The people had given their verdict and he had agreed with the holding of the referendum.

Divorce did not solve the real problems in marriage, although it could be a solution for a number people. But the fact that the majority wanted such legislation placed upon him the obligation as an MP to see that the law was enacted.

He felt that those who had voted no in the referendum wanted the minority to be respected. They had a right to know how he would vote, and the vast majority of his voters had never believed he would ever have supported such legislation.

Although it was very important to keep values in mind, one of the greatest values the people could learn more about was the value of tolerance and what was acceptable in society.

Logically, arguments in favour of divorce could yet be propagated for abortion or euthanasia simply because the majority would want it that way. He was not saying the people were wrong in their choice.

The Church too must update its views. No one could continue to deceive himself that there were no problems in marriage, such as ineffective child rearing, inadequate preparation and exposure to the media Political parties did not take up positions for their own political needs. He could think of issues like IVF, sexual education, marriage between gay couples and other lifestyle-related issues that eventually would have to be brought before Parliament.

This wave of liberalism over the past year was a result of how Parliament had come to work – no longer a majority or minority but a coalition of two sides.
He was going to be careful that the people's will prevailed, but would not change his personal beliefs.

He was sure the eventual vote by government MPs would indeed be free, but not convinced that it would be so among the opposition.
Many spoke about children's interests, but in court they were still being used in one way or another.

While the legislation would be trying to repair the damage, society must also work hard on the prevention of break-ups in the first place. Much better, more serious preparation for marriage was needed.

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

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