Saturday, February 15, 2014, 00:01 by Martha Fitz, Naxxar
Last week the Civil Unions Bill was discussed at Committee Stage for amendments. This is the first time that NGOs and interested parties could attend. The following are some reactions I had to this committee meeting.
I had the impression that the government is not open to anyone or any idea in disagreement with the Bill or with the LGBTI philosophy. One could easily feel a sense of urgency for this law to pass without too many changes.
The government does not seem to have sought the advice of competent bodies regarding the family and children.
It seems that the government is under great pressure from the LGBT lobby. Between 80 and 90 per cent of NGOs present were from LGBTI support groups. The welfare of children did not figure at all in the discussion.
A number of issues either remain unresolved or are obscure. Article 3 says that registration of a civil union is open to both gays and straight.
As a resul, gays might feel they are discriminated against because for them there would be only one possibility, namely, civil union, while straight couples would have both marriage and civil union. On the basis of this perceived discrimination, gay marriage would be next to be lobbied for.
Minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was conspicuous by her absence. In such an important discussion about the family her presence would have been greatly appreciated. The Commissioner for Children was present but left before the meeting ended.
The Civil Unions Bill is not only about homosexuality but also about children, families and marriage. I would have expected the government to have consulted with experts in all these fields on such an important matter. The effect on children, and the undermining of their rights as a result of this Bill, must surely be given more consideration.