Wednesday, 23 October 2013, 21:00 , by Jacob Borg
PN MP Claudette Buttigieg today opened the discussion on a private member’s bill seeking to amend the Constitution, adding protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
If passed, the amendment will nullify laws that are discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation, and it will also provide protection against such discrimination in the performance of functions of any public office or any public authority.
“The ‘gay marriage’ bill is not enough. It is a specific law treating the relationship between two people. This is a Constitutional amendment on human rights. Society can only mature if it has the right legislative framework in which to do so. In a mature society we have to realise that people have to accept new views, even those which they were not comfortable with,” Ms Buttigieg said.
The PN MP said that when it comes to human rights there is a need to seek unity and not differences.
Ms Buttigieg said that the time for idle talk is over, as concrete action is needed in order to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. She highlighted an array of factors which lead to discrimination, chief among which is outright ignorance and lack of education.
Ms Buttigieg said that the proposed amendment will provide a legal remedy to the victims of sexual discrimination. She called it a “tremendous advance that will empower victims and give them a Constitutional remedy” to the discrimination which they are facing.
Government welcomes Bill, but proposes amendment
Civil liberties Minister Helena Dalli welcomed the private member’s bill, but said that the government would present an amendment for a gender identity clause to be included in the legislation.
Dr Dalli said that the government was not trying to score “political points” through the amendment, as it is a genuine issue which was immediately flagged by LGBTI NGOs.
The NGOs felt that the Bill as originally proposed by Ms Buttigieg did not go far enough because sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, she said.
Dr Dalli accused Ms Buttigieg of passing underhanded comments about the speed with which the ‘gay marriage’ bill is being discussed.
Dr Dalli said that “80 hours worth of discussion” is not rushed.
‘MPs who are not in the Executive can still contribute to the legislative process’ –de Marco
PN deputy leader for Parliamentary Affairs Mario De Marco called for cool heads when discussing the private member’s bill.
He said that it is ultimately society that is the winner in all this, and the Bill should not be used by one side or the other in order to score political points.
“The motion was put forward because we believe that even as Opposition MPs we have a contribution to give. It is not only the executive which can put forward legislative proposals. This private member’s bill shows that even MPs who are not part of the executive can still contribute to the legislative process,” Dr de Marco said.