Monday, 11 June 2012

Malta Star: Bill to recognise same sex relationship
Sunday, 10 Jun 2012, 05:41

Within the life of this parliament government intends moving legislation recognising same-sex couples. After the debate on the bill to remove all forms of discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation, Said told Opposition MP Evarist Bartolo that such legislation is being prepared and will soon be brought to parliament.

So far the PN had refused to protect the rights of same sex couples and had reacted very negatively when the Labour Party proposed the recognition of such rights when the rent law was amended. But after opposing the introduction of divorce last year and losing the divorce referendum, the PN decided to reposition itself on gay rights.

The European Commission has said Maltese nationals who acquire free movement rights elsewhere in the EU – including institutional same-sex relationship – may continue to exercise those rights on return to Malta.

On 24 August 2011 the Commission replied to a complaint of an EU citizens residing in Malta and said: "It should, however, be noted that the Court of Justice of the European Union has extended the application of EU rules on free movement also to those Union citizens who return to their home Member State after having exercised their right and resided in another Member State.'

Last year the Freedom of Movement directive was fully transposed in Maltese law but left Maltese in same-sex relationships with third country nationals enjoying less protection.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement and Human Rights group Aditus had welcomed the full transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive, but said the updated law now creates an anomalous situation where 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.

The MGRM and Aditus said they regretted that the change only came about after infringement proceedings by the European Commission.

Since April 2010, Malta and EC officials had been locked in talks on the interpretation of the free movement directive (2004/38/EC) as Maltese legislation that was supposed to have transposed EU law only recognised partners "in a durable relationship" with EU citizens if such relationships were not in "conflict with the public policy of Malta".

This meant that same-sex couples moving to Malta would not enjoy the same rights they are entitled to across the EU even though recognition of gay registered partnerships or gay marriage is obligatory in the EU.

A legal notice was published last year, deleting the discriminatory clause.

The MGRM and Aditus had said that the removal of the clause did not go far enough and in fact the situation now had created an anomalous situation where, 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.

"This amendment is welcome but it in no way replaces the necessity for the introduction of 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," Gabi Calleja, MGRM coordinator said.

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