As Malta prepares for elections in March, campaigners hope for same-sex civil unions in five years and full gay marriage equality in 10
22 JANUARY 2013 | BY TRIS REID-SMITH
Gay and lesbian couples in Malta are closer to achieving partnership rights after both the island nation’s leading parties backed the idea.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) told Gay Star News they now hope to have civil partnerships in the next five years and marriage equality within 10.
The Mediterranean archipelago is currently preparing for elections on 9 March with the ruling Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista or PN) going head to head with the Labour Party.
Now both sides of the political divide have moved to supporting same-sex partnership rights though neither party is prepared to use the word ‘marriage’ yet. PN is calling it ‘civil partnerships’ and Labour ‘civil unions’.
The breakthrough came when MGRM met PN’s deputy leader, Simon Busuttil at the party’s headquarters. He argued progress had been made on LGBT rights but admitted more work was needed.
Gabi Calleja, MGRM’s coordinator, told Gay Star News: ‘I am hopeful since both of the major political parties seem to be moving in that direction [civil partnerships] will happen in five years.
‘In terms of civil unions there is quite widespread support from the public. The use of the word “marriage” may not be so popular because for Malta marriage tends to have religious connections.’
PN proposed cohabitation legislation last year but Calleja said that was ‘quite minimal’, offering next of kin and inheritance rights for same-sex partners but leaving out benefits like social security and pensions.
Now PN has moved forwards on partnerships and dropped their objection to adoption by same-sex couples. From now, adopting parents will be assessed on the needs of the child, rather than gays being excluded.
And a gender identity bill, to make transition easier for transgender people, which has languished in parliament since it was introduced in 2010 is also set to progress.
Calleja said: ‘Both sides of the house now support it so we expect that to go through in the next two years.’
She added that hate crime and workplace discrimination legislation introduced in June last year had given the LGBT community more confidence. But she said work was still needed to encourage people to report attacks to the police.