Article published on 19 November 2011 by Stephen Calleja
A Nationalist Party document set to be approved by the general council tomorrow paves the way for the legalisation of same-sex unions and relationships between heterosexuals other than marriage.
Coming six months after the PN opposed the introduction of divorce – which has since become law after the majority of people voted in favour in a referendum – the move can be interpreted as a shift from conservatism to liberalism within the party.
While insisting that marriage remains the fulcrum of a healthy society, the PN document says that the party is committed to strengthen the family, but it cannot remain oblivious to changes in the social order.
The document states that the party "understands that relationships are precious for people living the experience and understands as well that for them this relationship takes on a meaning of a family nucleus, even if they are not married. The State cannot close its eyes to this and therefore must legislate wherever necessary to establish rights and duties in such relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual."
This one paragraph could be the start of a wide change in Maltese society as we know it today if, as expected, the document is approved tomorrow.
Sources in the Nationalist Party said that the document can easily be seen as the basis on which the party's election manifesto is constructed in a few months.
While sticking to its anti-divorce position – the Nationalist Party has not changed the position it took against divorce earlier this year, and there is nothing that indicates a shift in the document being discussed this weekend – the PN clearly wants to distance itself from the accusations of being a confessional party, which were made in the run-up to the divorce referendum.
In the first of 10 concepts which are laid down in the opening part of the document, the PN says it is part of the European Christian Democrat family but "we are not a confessional or Church party and we understand that State and Church are two separate entities which do not impose their views on each other".
The document is being discussed at the Nationalist Party general council meeting which started yesterday, continues today, and comes to an end tomorrow with an address by Prime Minister and Nationalist Party leader Lawrence Gonzi.