No time frame has been given, but it could happen this year
Malta is looking to introduce same-sex marriage – and it sounds as if it could happen this year.
Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties, made the announcement on Tuesday (21 February).
If the law passes, Malta will be the 23rd country in the world, and the 13th in Europe, to legalize full marriage equality.
Dalli was speaking at a conference organized by Drachma, an organization for LGBTI Christians, when she made the announcement.
A Turkish audience member asked a question, noting he and his boyfriend had left Turkey to get married in Spain, before asking Dalli about marriage equality in Malta.
‘You’re not going to believe this, but yesterday I was revising a draft bill for marriage equality,’ Dalli said.
‘But also, I’d like to point out that our civil union law is on a par with marriage.’
The minister said there was only a difference in name, not in the rights for same-sex couples, but the government is ‘working on changing that’.
Campaigners however have said giving same-sex couples ‘civil unions’ could still be considered a ‘second-class’ version as the word marriage is still denied to them.
And it seems the conservative, center-right Nationalist Party (PN) is in full support.
According to the Times of Malta, the party’s youth network as well as the Equal Opportunities Forum (Forum Opportunitijaet Indaqs Partit Nazzjonalista) said they stand with opposition leader Simon Busuttil in pushing for same sex marriage.
‘We note that this position is consistent with calls from the PN leader 12 months ago,’ they said.
‘And is a position which we back out of a true sense of responsibility and belief.’
During the civil union vote on 14 April 2014, the Nationalist Party had abstained on the basis of not agreeing with gay couples adopting children.
The last time the topic of marriage equality came up in a public debate was in March 2016, during a Labour Party event to mark Women’s Day.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he was in favor of same-sex marriage and believed it was time for a debate about legalization.
Following his statements, the Nationalist Party accused Muscat of using marriage equality to divert attention from his involvement in the Panama Papers scandal.
In 2015, the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) ranked Malta as Europe’s most LGBTI-friendly country.
Last year, Malta became the first European country to ban so-called ‘gay cure’ therapy.
by Stefanie Gerdes
Source – Gay Star News