Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and adopt children, according to a group of 18 to 30-year-olds taking part in the National Youth Parliament yesterday.
If we are granting them the same rights because they are taxpayers like us, why should we place them even one millimetre below us?
Two out of 31 youngsters abstained after a long debate on whether society was prepared for the changes, while the rest voted for the resolution. The debate was one of four that took place throughout the morning.
Labour leader Joseph Muscat, who is in favour of civil unions but not full marriage or adoption rights, attended the session but remained silent.
Nationalist MP Karl Gouder and Labour MP Owen Bonnici were invited to speak.
Dr Bonnici thanked the students for their “progressive” stand.
“The relationships of people who love each other are not just private matters. They are family matters,” he said.
He added that whoever felt uncomfortable by societal changes should focus on changing themselves instead of trying to stop change.
Mr Gouder, an openly gay MP, said it was a pity that more parliamentarians did not attend the “encouraging” debate that served as an important lesson.
“Young people are viewing society as it is and calling on us to do the same,” he said.
The discussion on same-sex marriage was striking, he said, because of the consensus among the young participants in favour of granting rights to gay couples.
They only disagreed on whether to use the term “marriage” which, they noted, was deemed to have religious connotations.
The students were divided into two fictitious political parties, one of which played the role of government and proposed a resolution on civil unions.
It argued that society would be too “shocked” by the word marriage. However, it also insisted that civil unions should include all the rights of marriage, including the right to adopt children.
The opposing ‘party’ – which later succeeded in amending the resolution – went a step further, arguing that the State should set an example in equality.
“If we are granting them the same rights because they are taxpayers like us, why should we place them even one millimetre below us?” argued its ‘leader’, Oriana Farrugia, adding there was no point in delaying the inevitable.
The ‘leader’ of the ‘government party’, Charlene Valentina Giordimaina, closed the session by asking why there should be a rush to introduce marriage for same-sex couples before the necessary changes in society took place.
“If we introduce civil unions, marriage will be introduced within 10 years without much controversy,” she said.
The other debates were themed Sexual Health and Human Reproduction, Maltese Media Need a Change and Youth Are Not Only The Future But Also The Present.