Thursday, 30 May 2013

Malta Today: Think tank’s dampener: civil unions of great benefit but gay marriage ‘step too far’

Today Public Policy Institute says same-sex marriage is ‘one step too far for Malta as this time’
Friday 17 May 2013 - 11:47 by Jurgen Balzan

Civil unions are fine, but it may be too early to have gay marriage, TPPI said.

The benefits of recognising same-sex relationships through a civil union scheme at par with marriage, would be considerable for Maltese society, the TPPI think-tank said today.

Speaking during the launch of a report entitled Same Sex: Same Civil Entitlements, Martin Scicluna, chairman of the Today Public Policy Institute, said the creation of a new legal relationship for same-sex couples would play an important role in increasing the social acceptance of gays, bisexuals and trans-genders and removing discrimination.

But in spite of calls by the Malta Gay Rights Movement to introduce gay marriage, Scicluna said "same-sex marriage per se is one step too far for Malta at this time."

Although the report says that Maltese society treats LGBTI couples as being in a second-class relationship, the think tank falls short of recommending same sex marriage.

Quizzed why TPPI had not proposed gay marriage, Scicluna said: "The gay community in Malta would appreciate a status giving them a status close to being married, which would nonetheless break the barriers."

He explained that arguments in France and the UK where gay marriage had dominated the political scene in recent months, were about the word 'marriage'.

Scicluna added that the proposal to restrict the civil union scheme to same-sex couples was a reaction to British conservatives favouring marriage, in order not to give straight couples the option to apply for civil unions.

He explained that the think tank's board members did not necessarily agree with every sentence in the report.

Asked whether the think tank was simply being cautious, he said that once Malta has introduced civil union as happened in France and the UK, in due course it will move in the direction of realising that same-sex marriage should be introduced.

The report has been presented to all MPs and was written as a contribution to the Consultative Council called by government. Both parties in parliament agree with the introduction of civil unions.

[View report here.]

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