Sunday, 1 July 2012

Malta Today: Motion for cohabitation bill's first reading presented

Motion for bill that will also give rights to gay partners presented in House in week of gay pride celebrations.
Thursday 28 June 2012 - 13:27 by  Matthew Vella

Justice and family minister stewarded the cohabitation bill into parliament, but the devil will be in the detail when the bill is officially tabled.

Justice minister Chris Said has tabled a motion for the bill that will finally bring into law a 1998 electoral pledged to recognise new rights for unmarried couples, both straight and gay.

The motion for a first reading for a cohabitation bill was presented to the Clerk of the House on Tuesday evening, ahead of the start of a weeklong gay pride celebration by the Malta Gay Rights Movement.

Final touches to the law will be applied by the Cabinet this week. Government whip David Agius said the contents of the law will be discussed by the PN parliamentary group in the coming week.

Among other things, the law is expected to provide civil rights for unmarried couples, which will now be formally recognised by the law if they are part of a durable relationship.

Gay couples are set to have their relationship recognised at law with the government, fulfiling one of the declarations of intent in the Nationalist Party's latest policy document, published last November, which noted that the state "must legislate wherever necessary to establish the rights and responsibilities of such relationships for both heterosexuals and homosexuals".

The pledge to legislate for civil partnerships for gay couples was also taken up by Labour, which had previously stated the law would be part of its election manifesto.

The Church is expected to pronounce itself against civil partnerships for gay couples, after Pope Benedict XVI said any deviation from the traditional understanding of marriage would "threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself."

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