Sunday, 12 January 2014

Malta Today: Tonio Fenech says he would vote against civil unions bill

Nationalist MP says he would not vote in favour as neither he nor the PN agree with legalising adoption by gay couples
Sunday 12 January 2014 - 15:22 by Daniel Mizzi

Nationalist MP Tonio Fenech says he would not vote in favour of current civil unions bill due to adoption clause

Opposition MP Tonio Fenech has insisted that he will not vote in favour of the current civil unions bill, because it gives same sex couples the right to adopt children.

"If I had to vote on the current civil unions bill, I would vote against because it gives gay couples the right to adopt - a principle which the Nationalist Party disagrees with," Tonio Fenech said while being hosted on Radju Malta's Ghandi xi Nghid.

"As a result, I would not be inconsistent with my party's stand, and would vote against the current civil unions bill."

Now in its second reading, the Civil Unions Bill seeks to legalise and recognise the relationship between same sex couples, a law which was proposed by both the PN and the PL in the run up to the election.

However, Tonio Fenech said that neither party had included gay adoption in their respective electoral manifestos, a stand also voiced by Auxiliary Biship Charles Scicluna who had said the government does not have electoral mandate to introduce gay adoption.

The current civil unions bill seeks to enable same-sex couples in formal unions to adopt children as a couple, a clause that the PN has since sought to waive.

"Just as marriage law does not make any reference to adoption, the same should apply for the civil unions bill," fellow Nationalist MP Chris Said told parliament in December.

"Consequently", Said had argued, "legal provisions on adoptions should not be included in the bill, but conversely, the issue should only be regulated by the adoption act."

On his part, Tonio Fenech said alongside the PN, he is against the current civil unions bill because of the adoption clause and also renewed calls for the government to listen to the opposition, rather than "steamroll" over it.

Nevertheless, the former finance minister said that the child's wellbeing should be at the top of the agenda and also insisted that adoption is the children's right not the couple's.

"In the run up to the election, the Labour Party had said that it would carry out social impact studies prior to implementing any laws which might have an everlasting effect on society as a whole."

"However, just as it did with the citizenship scheme, the government bulldozed over the opposition and moreover, it went back from its word and did not conduct a social impact study on the adoption of children by same sex couples," Fenech stressed.

While making a distinction between marriage and civil unions, Fenech also said that neither the PN nor the PL had said that civil unions would be equal to marriage in all but name in their respective electoral manifestos.

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