Freedom of movement: same-sex relationships recognised, but not for Maltese nationals

Freedom of Movement directive fully transposed but leaves Maltese in same-sex relationships with third country nationals enjoying less protection.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement and human rights Aditus have welcomed the full transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive, but said the updated law now creates an anomalous situation where relationships of Maltese citizens with a third country national of the same sex enjoy less protection than those of other EU nationals in the same situation moving to Malta.

The MGRM and Aditus said they regretted that the change only came about after infringement proceedings by the European Commission.

Since April 2010, Malta and EC officials had been locked in talks on the interpretation of the free movement directive (2004/38/EC).

Specifically, Maltese legislation that was supposed to have transposed EU law only recognised partners “in a durable relationship” with EU citizens if such relationships were not in “conflict with the public policy of Malta”.

This interpretation has meant that same-sex couples moving to Malta would not enjoy the same rights they are entitled to across the EU.

But despite Malta’s absolute policy of non-recognition of same-sex marriages, registered partnerships or any form of same-sex relationship, the Freedom of Movement Directive is obligatory.

A legal notice has now been published, deleting the discriminatory clause.

The MGRM and Aditus said the situation now had created an anomalous situation where, a South African national in a relationship with a Belgian citizen would be allowed to enter, reside and work in Malta; whereas the same person in a relationship with a Maltese citizen would not.

“This amendment is welcome but it in no way replaces the necessity for the introduction of comprehensive legislation recognising same-sex couples. It is regrettable that a number of same-sex couples are forced to leave Malta in order to sustain their relationship each year,” Gabi Calleja, MGRM coordinator said.

Aditus chairperson Dr. Neil Falzon added that this was a clear example of how European Union membership strenghtened the recognition and enforcement of fundamental human rights.

Source: maltatoday