Presented by the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties - Hon. Dr Helena Dalli
AN ACT to regulate civil unions and to provide for matters connected therewith or ancillary thereto.
BE IT ENACTED by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:-
1. The short title of this Act is the Civil Unions Act, 2013.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires -
"civil union" means the civil union celebrated in accordance with the provisions of this Act;
"partner" means a person, of either sex, who is bound by a civil union;
"Registrar" has the same meaning attributed to the term in the
Marriage Act, hereinafter referred to as "the Act".
Establishment of civil unions.
3. (1) Save as provided in this Act, all persons fulfilling the requirements to enter into marriage in accordance with the Act may register their partnership as a civil union.
(2) Registration of a partnership as a civil union shall be permissible between two persons of the same or of different sex.
Civil unions and marriage.
4. (1) Save as provided in this Act a civil union, once registered, shall mutatis mutandis have the corresponding effects and consequences in law of civil marriage contracted under the Act.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-article (1):
(a) articles 3 to 16 (both included), 18 to 20 (both included), 33, 34, 36(3) and 38 of the Act shall mutatis mutandis apply to civil unions:
(i) the reference to "wife", "husband" and "man and wife" in article 15(2) of the Act shall be construed as a reference to partners in a civil union insofar as the said sub-article applies to civil unions; and
(ii) the reference to "born or conceived" in article
20(2) of the Act shall be construed as also including children adopted by partners in a civil union;
(b) articles 35 to 66 (both included) and 66A to 66N (both included) of the Civil Code shall mutatis mutandis apply to civil unions.
Form of civil unions.
5. Civil unions shall only be contracted in the form established by this Act.
Provisions particular to civil unions.
6. Notwithstanding the provisions of article 4, with regard to a marriage celebrated abroad by two persons of the same sex, article 18 of the Act shall be construed in such a manner as to be applicable to such marriage.
Void civil union.
7. A civil union contracted between persons either of whom is bound by a previous marriage or civil union, or by another union of equivalent legal status contracted outside Malta shall be void.
8. Where a couple, one of whom is a person habitually resident in Malta, has contracted a marriage, civil union or institute of equivalent legal status, in a country outside Malta, and either of the persons in the couple is a national of a country which is not a Member State of the European Union, computation of legal residence of the said third country national in Malta shall commence retroactively from the official date of the marriage, civil union or equivalent institute.
Equation of rights and obligations.
9. In situations where the rights and obligations of civil partners are unclear, every effort shall be made to ensure that the determination of such rights and obligations is such that equates them to those enjoyed by spouses.
Amendment to article 4 of the Civil Code. Cap. 16.
10. Immediately after sub-article (10) of article 4 of the Civil
Code there shall be added the following new sub-article:
"(11) Partners in a civil union contracted according to the Civil Unions Act, 2013 may, when applying for the publication of banns relating to the civil union elect to:
(a) adopt for both of them the surname of one of the partners to the civil union; or
(b) retain their own surname; or
(c) retain their own surname and add to it the surname of the other partner in the civil union:
Provided that if no choice is expressed in accordance with this sub-article the partners to a civil union shall retain their own surnames.".
Addition of new article 100B to the Civil Code. Cap. 16.
11. Immediately after article 100A of the Civil Code there shall be added the following new article:
"Parenthood in civil unions.
100B. (1) Children adopted jointly by partners to a civil union contracted between persons of the same sex under the Civil Unions Act, 2013 or recognised by the said Act shall, notwithstanding the other provisions of this Code or of any other law, be recognised for all intents and purposes of law as having parents of the same sex and all rights and obligations of parents towards their children and of children towards their parents under this Code or under any other law shall apply to such children and parents.
(2) Whenever a law or administrative measure requires a person to declare the name or other particulars of the mother or the father, a person adopted jointly by partners in a civil union as referred to in sub-article (1) shall be entitled to declare the names or other particulars of the two partners in the said civil union instead of the said particulars of the mother or the father.".
Addition of new article 295A to the Civil Code. Cap. 16.
12. Immediately after article 295 of the Civil Code there shall be added the following new article:
"Act of civil union.
295A. (1) The provisions of this Sub- title shall mutatis mutandis apply to civil unions contracted under the Civil Unions Act, 2013.
(2) An act of civil union shall be in the form stipulated in Form EE in Part II of the First Schedule to this Code.".
Addition of Form EE in Part II of First Schedule to the Civil Code. Cap. 16.
13. In Part II of the First Schedule to the Civil Code, immediately after Form E entitled "Att taż-Żwieġ Act of Marriage" there shall be added the new Form EE as shown in the Schedule to this Act.
Amendment of the Criminal Code. Cap. 9.
14. Immediately after article 196 of the Criminal Code, there shall be added the following new article:
"Bigamy involving a civil union.
196A. The offence provided for in article 196 shall also be committed and the punishments provided in the said article shall also apply to any partner to a civil union contracted or recognised under the Civil Unions Act, 2013 who during the subsistence of a valid civil union contracts a second civil union or a marriage and to any person who during the subsistence of a valid marriage contracts a civil union.".
Amendment to the Marriage Act. Cap. 255.
15. In the proviso to sub-article (5) of article 7 of the Marriage Act, immediately after the words "for the purpose of this article.", there shall be added the words "This proviso shall also apply where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Registrar that obtaining a certificate of birth could expose a person requesting the publication of banns to risks to his physical or mental integrity.".
[View Form EE for the declarations of the parties and the witnesses in English and Maltese here.]
Objects and Reasons
The objects and reasons of this Bill are the introduction of the right of persons, whether of the same or of opposite sexes, to contract a civil union. The underlying principle of this Act is to equate civil unions with marriages, in terms of procedure and substance in a manner that guarantees equal rights to parties in a civil union as are granted to spouses in a marriage.
The equation approach should guarantee enjoyment of equal rights and obligations across all areas of law and social life.
[Note: The text of the Bill was amended and it was renumbered 20/2014 during the Second Reading.]