Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Times: PN: We would change the law to allow gay adoption

Monday, January 21, 2013 by Claudia Calleja

‘The important thing is the welfare of the child.’

The Nationalist Party is ready to change the law to allow gay couples to adopt if this would serve the best interests of children, a party spokesman said.

“For the PN the important thing is the welfare of the child and that experts confirm that the child will have a loving and caring family, irrespective of the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation.

“In all cases the best interests of the child remain paramount and, if legislative changes are required to achieve this principle, then the party will propose such changes when in Government,” the spokesman said.

Last week Labour leader Joseph Muscat said he was committed to introducing civil unions for same-sex couples, saying this would not be a simple partnership contract open to everyone including siblings.

The civil union would include a package of rights, similar to those obtained through marriage, for gay couples.

This differs from the civil partnership proposed by the Nationalist government as part of the cohabitation law. Such a partnership applies to anyone living under the same roof – be they a hetero­sexual couple, siblings or a gay people.

Dr Muscat later told The Times he was not against adoption by gay couples as long as this was in the child’s interests.

“We don’t need to change any laws (for adoption) because what there is at present is a policy. What is crucial to me is the well-being of the child,” he said.

The next day, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi echoed Dr Muscat’s view: “The important thing is for experts to confirm the child will have a loving and caring family, irrespective of the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation. In all cases, the best interests of the child remain paramount.”

Meanwhile, Alternattiva Demokratika’s chairman Michael Briguglio said AD was in favour of full marriage equality, including the right to adopt.

AD noted that professionals needed policy guidance and the law needed to change to allow gay people to adopt as a couple.

Questions sent to the PL, asking whether they would amend the law, remained unanswered by the time of writing.

Under Maltese law, adoption is allowed by married couples or single people. Gay people adopt as single parents, which means that their partner has no legal rights and obligations towards the child.

The PL and PN’s views on gay couples adopting sparked various reactions. The Malta Gay Rights Movement welcomed the stand while anti-abortion campaigner Paul Vincenti set up a Facebook group to object.

Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna has said that allowing gay couples to adopt was not deemed to be in the best interest of children since the very aim of adoption was to give the child the mother and father figures they did not have.

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