Sunday, October 14, 2012 by Bertrand Borg
The Labour Party has stopped short of endorsing gay adoption, hinting instead that further debate is needed on the controversial issue.
“We are guided by the principle that adoptions should be in the best interest of the child first,” a PL spokesman said when asked about the party’s position on adoption by same-sex couples. This indicates that the party is keeping its options open, two days after Labour MP Michael Farrugia appeared to hint that the PL favoured allowing gay couples to adopt .
Speaking on TVM discussion programme Xarabank, Mr Farrugia said the PL’s thinking on the issue had evolved. He also argued that currently gay couples could already adopt by simply applying for adoption as single parents.
Justice Minister Chris Said, who also took part in the programme made it clear that the Nationalist Party was against gay adoption.
The PL’s ambiguous statement leaves Malta’s three political parties with neatly contrasting positions on the issue, with the PN not in favour of gay adoption, Alternattiva Demokratika openly in favour and the PL somewhere in between.
Parliament is set to debate two landmark bills concerning cohabitation and IVF over the coming weeks. The draft IVF Bill limits the treatment to married or “stable” heterosexual couples, while its draft Cohabitation Bill has come in for criticism from certain quarters for not offering gay couples a marriage equivalent.
Dr Said used his appearance on Xarabank last Friday to announce that the government intended to amend the Cohabitation Bill to provide for civil partnerships. With the minister unavailable for comment yesterday, it remains unclear how civil partnerships will differ from the government’s original proposals.
The PL said that the change of heart was borne of “electoral convenience rather than conviction”.
“We are proposing to introduce civil unions, not sandwich the concept of partnership in the cohabitation law,” the spokesman said.
Such unions would ensure same-sex couples had the same rights and obligations as any other couple, Labour’s spokesman said.
And while the party spokesman did not enter into specifics, sources within the PL indicate that the party’s civil union proposal was likely to include fiscal and tax-related measures.