Saturday, 27 August 2011

Times: NGOs welcome amendment to law on same-sex couples
Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Malta Gay Rights Movement and human rights NGO Aditus have welcomed the government's amendment to a law which discriminated against gay couples but say there is still a long way to go.

The European Commission had initiated infringement proceedings against Malta for discriminating against same-sex couples when it did not allow for freedom of movement of recognised same-sex couples, one of who would not be an EU national.

The NGOs said that with this amendment, EU nationals in a relationship with a third country national of the same sex, wishing to move to and reside in Malta, should now have their entry facilitated.

"Being married or in a registered partnership should automatically qualify as a durable relationship duly attested for the purposes of the directive. Where no such formalisation of the relationship exists, other proof might be requested by the local authorities," the organisations said in a statement.

But even though a step forward, this was not enough, they said: It also creates an anomalous situation whereby relationships of Maltese citizens with a third country national of the same sex enjoy less protection than those of other EU nationals in the same situation moving to Malta.

"In other words, a South African national in a relationship with a Belgian citizen, would be allowed to enter, reside and work in Malta whereas the same person in a relationship with a Maltese citizen would not."

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said the amendment in no way did away with the need to introduce comprehensive legislation recognising same-sex couples.

"It is regrettable that a number of same-sex couples are forced to leave Malta in order to sustain their relationship each year."

Aditus chairman and human rights lawyer Neil Falzon said: "This is a clear example of how European Union membership may also imply strengthening the recognition and enforcement of fundamental human rights."

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

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