Thursday, 29 March 2012

Times: A rose by any other name
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 by Kenneth Zammit Tabona

I was intrigued by Enrico Gurioli’s piece about the late Lucio Dalla last Friday. I am still at a loss as to what Mr Gurioli was trying to say. Maybe it was his Italianate turn of phrase.

Mr Dalla had a grand funeral at the gorgeous San Petronio in Bologna mourned by the great and the good of Italy, led by his male partner Marco Alemanno.

The Church did not seem to have a problem with the Dalla-Alemanno homosexual relationship because, according to Mr Gurioli, Lucio Dalla lived a very low key existence with his Marco and, so, it was all fine and dandy. I am flummoxed, to say the least. In fact, Mr Gurioli was incensed when some journalist called the whole thing hypocritical. I still cannot figure out whether Mr Gurioli is in favour of gay marriage or not. In Malta, we have much of the same.

With divorce well and truly an integral part of our system, it was only a matter of time before other social imbalances, injustices and anomalies were brought into the limelight to be put right.

Gay civil partnership, a palliative name for same-sex marriage, has long been on the cards. For as long as I can remember, the Nationalist Party and, hence, governmental stance on this has been that, eventually, the government will regulate cohabitation, which in the PN and governmental mistaken opinion, will encompass and satisfy the demands of the gay lobbyists. It will not.

That was the situation up to a week or so ago. Now that Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando appears to be championing the gay marriage cause one wonders whether he will pull off yet another hat-trick and propose a Private Member’s Bill to introduce it. That’s what it looks like from this end of the telescope.

Instead of a no nonsense approach from the government, we have already got rumblings about cohabitation, which, in fact, is all eyewash, and letters about Christian morality etc. I simply cannot believe that after all that has happened in 2011 with regard to divorce, the pundits are going to drag the country through yet another trauma because of gay marriage.

Please tell me that it’s not going to happen. We simply cannot afford another €4 million on a referendum. The legislation must happen and with the least possible fuss. Procrastinating on this issue is like sweeping dust under the carpet and hoping it will go away. It won’t!

Let’s clarify a couple of issues.

Like divorce, gay marriage or civil partnership is a totally secular animal and has no bearing whatsoever on religion. The government learned the hard way that the people of Malta wish to have total freedom of worship and want to have a government that is not controlled or influenced in any way by any religion. That is as it should be.

I do not think that anyone wants a repeat of the fraught months that led up to last year’s referendum; months that debilitated the government and showed that the PN’s political stance about divorce was a dreadful mistake. The aftermath of the referendum was just as fraught. That a mountain out of a molehill was made of divorce is proven by the fact that, today, a mere eight months later, nobody bothers about it at all. It has become a non issue!

That brings us again to cohabitation and whatever it means or will mean in Malta where cohabitation by people of same and different sexes is becoming the norm. Legal cohabitation, however you look at it, is a second class form of marriage. The gay lobby, like their straight counterparts, want the choice of having either of the legal first and second class unions and, therefore, merely grafting cohabitation onto the law is not going to please anybody.

It will not please the Church for starters as it undermines and discourages heterosexual marriage nor will it please the gay community who are sick and tired of being taken for a ride on this issue. So forget this highly unsatisfactory cohabitation issue once and for all and bite the bullet. Legislate for gay marriage now.

To get back to Lucio Dalla and his particular way of life, I am quite sure that a great many of you know, love and respect gay people whether or not they are in a relationship, married or whatever. Can you bring yourselves, should it, God forbid, get to referendum stage to deny a basic civil right to people whom you consider your friends or even whose lives have no bearing on your own?

Why should people like me be forever condemned to inhabit some twilight zone? I could safely say that I have a high sort of profile. I bore you all to sobs every Tuesday with my perorations. I attempt to seduce and delight you with my paintings and I have causes, like Baroque festivals and other animals, to uplift your spirits. Yet, my personal life, which, may I remind you, is an open book, is sadly restricted, unlike the rank and file of the inhabitants Malta and Gozo.

I am forever unable to pledge myself to the man I choose to love and who loves me because there is no provision in the law to do so. I may, in the near future, cohabit and be covered by whatever this half-baked law consists of. However, by and large, I am and will remain in the eyes of the law of “this (un)fair land” a second class citizen. For shame.

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

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