It’s been a temperamental eight months as far as the Civil Unions bill is concerned.
One might say I witnessed its conception when we began to draft it in the LGBT
consultative council meetings. These meetings too were rife with disagreement and
heated debate, just like the meetings of the House Committee for the consideration
of Bills, but finally we managed to come up with something we were all be happy
with and we presented it to the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and
Civil Liberties Helena Dalli. She in turn presented the bill before Parliament along
with a fiery speech which I eagerly listened to in the kitchen over my radio, in a
scene that had an almost nostalgic feeling to it. I imagined that this is what it was
like for people before television, who would listen to history being made on the radio.
It must be made clear from the get go that that is exactly what this bill represents, a
turning point in Maltese history. It represents a giant leap towards greater equality
amongst the inhabitants of this island, and to a lot of us it is akin to Independence or
Freedom Day. It’s an exhilarating feeling standing on the cusp of such an important
occasion, waiting for the chains of oppression to be released! Ok so maybe that
all sounds a tad dramatic but when I think back just five years I would have never
thought such a forward step would be taken by the government of Malta. Back
then the talk was about cohabitation or some sort of regularised situation but with
the bill that is soon to be voted on in Parliament for the third and final time, we are
going to have “A civil union on par with marriage” to quote the Minister herself. I get
goosebumps just typing it.
It’s a shame that the bill was met with so much dissent from the opposition, I would
have much rather had a bill which was unanimously welcomed by all rather than the result of polarised debate, but it seems that the adoption clause in particular created
an impasse between the government and the opposition. Ultimately I’m happy that
the government has delivered on this promise sooner rather than later, and I’m glad
to see that unlike on the divorce issue (Malta was the last country in the world to
adopt divorce) Malta is going to be one of the early adopters of this civil right, a right
which is still not respected in far too many countries.
- Paul Caruana Turner