Sunday, March 4, 2012, by Kurt Sansone
The Labour Party yesterday declined to comment on a proposal to give gay couples the right to marry, though it said a pledge to recognise same-sex unions would be included in its electoral manifesto.
Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando on Friday said he did not rule out presenting a Private Members’ Bill introducing same-sex marriage.
But when asked whether the party would support such a parliamentary initiative, a PL spokesman said: “No Bills have been presented and so the Labour Party is not in a position to examine and comment on it.”
Last year the PN backbencher successfully co-piloted a divorce Bill with Labour MP Evarist Bartolo that saw divorce officially become legal on October 1.
In Malta same-sex marriages are not allowed and there is no other law regulating gay couples. It is this state of affairs that the Labour Party wants changed.
“Joseph Muscat has long declared his position in favour of the introduction of civil unions for gay couples and this pledge will form part of Labour’s manifesto,” the spokesman said.
Unlike divorce, where Malta was one of only two countries worldwide that prohibited it, same-sex marriage is only legal in 10 countries, including six EU member states.
But many other countries offer some sort of legal recognition to gay couples that may vary from the recognition of rights and obligations emanating from the relationship to granting of marriage-like rights.
Writing in The Times on Friday Dr Pullicino Orlando said gay couples should have the right to marry and urged the government to start by presenting the long-promised cohabitation Bill.
The Bill is likely to cater for gay couples alongside siblings living together and unmarried partners. Gay rights activists have insisted this will not provide a satisfactory solution in their quest for more rights.
The Labour Party’s proposal to legislate in favour of civil unions would not simply be a case of regularising gay relationships, the spokesman said. “It will legally recognise the union between same sex couples.”
Last year on current affairs TV programme Xarabank, Dr Muscat had pitched his case for gay civil unions but argued against same-sex marriage and the right for gay couples to adopt children.
Alternattiva Demokratika has been the only political party to take a clear stand in favour of granting gay couples full marriage rights.
Same-sex marriage is allowed in...
Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal South Africa, Spain and Sweden.
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