Saturday, 25 August 2012

Malta Today: Pullicino Orlando 'very satisfied' with urgency on IVF and cohabitation bills
Friday 17 August 2012 - 15:56,  Jurgen Balzan

Independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando expressed his satisfaction at the urgency shown by the government on the IVF and cohabitation bills.

Independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando

Independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said he held a "positive meeting" with justice minister Chris Said on the Cohabitation Bill.

He said that he was "very satisfied" that both the IVF and cohabitation bills are being treated with urgency by the government.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Pullicino Orlando confirmed that he held a meeting today with Said on the request of Prime Minister and said the two had already discussed a number of points over the phone before the PN Parliamentary Group met up to discuss the subject on 9 July.

"Issues I had raised with Minister Said with regards to the rights of gay couples were put forward and approved during that meeting. A number of other points related to the rights of cohabiting couples in general and gay couples in particular were discussed during today's meeting," Pullicino Orlando said.

"I found Minister Said to be very receptive to the issues I raised. This should help to make the bill more relevant to the realities of Maltese society in today's world," he added.

Pullicino Orlando said that he had already held discussions about this subject with Minister Said before the summer recess.

"Said assured me that it is going to be placed on the parliamentary agenda, together with the 'Embryo Protection Bill', as soon as Parliament re-convenes in October," the MP said.

He stressed that the cohabitation bill must "be given the priority it deserves."

Pullicino Orlando reiterated that the IVF bill should guarantee the full protection of human embryos and a cohabitation bill should give "due consideration to the rights of gay couples to be priorities when it comes to the issues Parliament should deal with as soon as we re-convene."

"I am very satisfied that both these issues are being treated with the urgency they deserve by the Nationalist government," he added.

Pullicino Orlando underlined that he reserved the right to present amendments to both bills, when government presents them in their final version, "at the opportune moment if I feel that it may be necessary."

The MP explained that Said agreed to Pullicino Orlando issuing a press statement after today's meeting. The MP defected from the Nationalist Party and declared himself an independent member of parliament after being condemned and banned from contesting elections on the PN ticket.

In resigning from the PN, Pullicino Orlando pledging to keep working with the Nationalist government for the completion of its electoral mandate.

In his resignation letter, the MP had explained that he expects to be consulted by the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi should any measure which is not mentioned in the PN's 2008 electoral programme require his support in Parliament.

Pullicino Orlando's resignation came just days after his case for the expulsion of party strategist Richard Cachia Caruana was unanimously voted down by the party executive.

In June, justice minister Chris Said 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.

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".

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