Thursday, 23 January 2014

Malta Today: MGRM calls on PN, Church to reverse position to civil unions

Malta Gay Right Movement calls on Church and Nationalist Party to revise position on adoption by same sex couples and endorse civil union law.
Tuesday 21 January 2014 - 15:21 by a Staff Reporter

The Malta Gay Right Movement (MGRM) called on the Nationalist Party to revise its position on adoption by same sex couples and to fully endorse the civil union bill.

"This is in the best interest of Maltese society and particularly of those children who will continue to be born to LGBT parents," MGRM said.

In a lengthy statement, the organisation addressed a number of issues related to the civil union bill which is currently being discussed in Parliament.

Reacting to arguments which have been brought forward by various public figures on the subject of gay parenting and adoption by same-sex couples, the statement mainly addressed the opposition registered by the Church and the Nationalist Party.

Accusing the Chuch of having an "intrinsically discriminatory and heterosexist attitude" in assuming that one's sexual orientation has a bearing on one's parenting ability, MGRM said "any claim made by the Bishop (Scicluna) and the Catholic Church he represents to tackle homophobia and bullying are, in the final analysis, worthless until the Catholic Church reverses its position to one which recognises that loving relationships between couples of the same-sex are of equal value and worth and as natural and normal although possibly not as common as those between couples of the opposite sex."

Quoting Fr Mark Sultana who said that "gay couples are able to love and to parent," MGRM said that the "logical conclusion of this assertion would be for the church to withdraw its objection to adoption by gay persons since the ability to love and parent is precisely what is expected of adoptive parents."

Noting another objection made by the Church over the natural law principle, MGRM said the Catholic Church goes against the best interest of children being raised by same-sex couples when it opposes legal recognition of both the biological and social parent involved in the child's life, or choses to treat them as unwelcome exceptions rather than as part of the diversity of family forms already present in society.

Reacting to PN leader Simon Busuttil's comments that no one has the right to have children, MGRM said "perhaps someone should inform Dr Busuttil that Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that 'Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right'."

MGRM also took umbrage at the PN's insistence to refer to adoption by same-sex couples as gay adoption.

"There is no such thing as gay adoption. There is simply adoption legislated through the adoption act, with an assessment process which, following the introduction of the civil union bill, will also be open to same-sex couples."

It added that the PN's repeated assertions that the civil union bill grants same-sex couples the right to adopt is "misleading and blatantly untrue."

The organization stressed that the civil union bill simply grants those couples in a civil union the same rights as those enjoyed by married couples. "Therefore any reference to marital status in the adoption act will henceforth also be extended to those in a civil union."

Moreover, MGRM said that it The Times misrepresented its comments over the increased difficulties that couples seeking to adopt might face following the introduction of the civil union bill by using 'gay lobby says equality is the main priority' in a byline, implying that equality comes before the best interest of children.

"The gay lobby has always had the best interest of children at heart. In our view, the best interest of children can never be held to be compromised by a law that seeks to address inequality and discrimination, for, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'."

MGRM pointed out that a country which arbitrarily discriminates against some of its citizens and denies them equal treatment, recognition and rights whether it be on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, or any other ground, "does a disservice not just to some children but to all children."

On the prominence given by The Times to a survey commissioned by the Catholic Church in Malta which found that 80% are against adoption by same-sex couples, MGRM said "This is not news. The government as well as LGBT activists were well aware of this fact."

"All such surveys demonstrates is that LGBT people live in an at best, heterosexist and at worst, homophobic environment and that much still needs to be done to ensure the equal treatment of LGBT persons and their families in Maltese society."

"More ironic is that the Catholic Church, an organisation in which all authority and power is vested solely in men and where women and children have no voice, should resort to call on the government to take note of public opinion."

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