Monday, 16 December 2013, 21:00, UPDATE 1
In her winding up speech the Civil Unions Bill, which passed through second reading stage, the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Helena Dalli said this sends a clear message for those in a minority due to their sexuality, showing that legislators are ready to be on their side and the government is being consistent with promises made to the LGBT community before the election.
This is happening while the PN is taking a step backwards which shows PN leader Simon Busuttil is less liberal than his predecessor Lawrence Gonzi.
Quoting a Catholic nun, she said the argument that gays cannot be a couple because their bodies do not fit together and they do not procreate reduces everything to a matter of “plumbing”.
Ultimately, the aim of the Bill is to bring about recognition of all couples, including gays. Scrutiny is being increased as gay couples, rather than individuals, will appear before the Adoptions Board. Moreover, children being brought up by a gay couple are being due respect.
Earlier, PN MP Claudio Grech said despite being one of the shortest Bills for Parliament to consider, it is a very important and complex one, intended to address one of the most important elements of society – the family.
He feels the law gives the island the possibility to reach an important milestone, although the PN has moved a number of amendments last week. Explaining that the government and opposition agree on the need for this Bill he said consultation is key, while warning against rushed decisions. The Parliamentary Committee on the family was not involved in such discussions while this was also lacking with regard to civil society, including the Children’s Commissioner.
He stressed adoptions are a right of children not families and this is a fundamental principle that must be kept in mind.
Government MP Carmelo Abela meanwhile pointed out he feels comfortable voting in favour of the Bill despite his Catholic views, because he considers individuals as having different needs and focuses on their rights rather than labels.
He disagrees the Bill is being rushed, because although timeframes have been given, discussion i still underway. Prior to the March election argued in favour of gay adoptions, he noted, but is now calling for a social impact assessment on adoptions by gay couples, believing this is an internal compromise the party has reached.
Budget Estimates Bill
Towards the end of the sitting, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna introduced the Budget Estimates Bill and asserted that a month-and-a-half after the Budget presentation, this is not a subject of discussion meaning that it has brought about peace of mind.
He then went on to give an explanation on the job creation and unemployment scenario – the yardsticks for our economy.