The Malta Gay Rights Movement was involved in a number of consultation meetings with Minister Chris Said regarding the legal recognition of same-sex couples and their families. MGRM presented the Minister with its Position Paper on Marriage Equality published in January of this year which laid out the reasoning behind the Movement’s demands.
It is hugely disappointing that the bill proposed does not accede to most of MGRM’s demands and fails to attain even the minimal level of recognition acceptable, that is civil unions at a par with marriage. As things stand, the bill acknowledges those who enter into a de jure cohabitation agreement as next of kin and grants residency rights to those who come from Third Countries but continues to exclude these couples from the government’s definition of family.
For those same-sex headed households which also include children, the role and contribution of the non-biological parent is only recognised if and when the biological parent dies to the detriment of the children concerned. Those same-sex couples who are both registered on the child’s birth certificate as parents, as is possible for those children born in the UK and a number of other EU countries or Australia for example, it will not be able to register their child in Malta in a similar manner. In effect, the child will lose a legal parent on moving to Malta. This is unacceptable and considered to be an infringement of the child’s rights as well as a breach of the freedom of movement directive where EU citizens are concerned.
While the government may chose to present this bill as a considerable step forward the Malta Gay Rights Movement holds that such a bill continues to stigmatise same-sex couples and their families as inferior by preventing access to equal rights and creating a separate form of recognition that is by far inferior to marriage. It also serves to justify and perpetuate the homophobia that exists in society. We call on the government to take a leadership role in this matter and ensure that all citizens have access to equal recognition before the law rather than allow for the prejudice and homophobia of some sectors of society from presenting a more just law.