Divorce: Labour MPs want referendum first
Labour MPs Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Carmelo Abela this evening spoke against the introduction of divorce and said they felt that a referendum should be held before the House debated the subject. They said they had not been elected with a mandate to legislate on divorce and therefore they felt uncomfortable debating the subject in the House before the people expressed themselves.
The two MPs also said that despite the fact that many in the PL were in favour of divorce, they felt comfortable expressing their own personal views.
They were speaking at a debate organised by the Anti-Divorce Movement. Also taking part were Nationalist MPs Jason Azzopardi and Charlo' Bonnici, who are also against the introduction of divorce.
All four argued that divorce would erode the concept of a marriage for life and that it would create more social problems than it would solve.
Dr Azzopardi said this debate was an opportunity for the country to reflect on the state of the family as a unit and within society.
Ms Coleiro Preca stressed that the people should be able to decide on the basis of proper information backed by studies. She said that children might accept cohabitation, however grudgingly, but divorce was harder on them because it was a more permanent split.
Mr Bonnici said divorce was especially harmful to children. He stressed the importance of marriage preparation as well as assistance to married couples and said that children too, at a young age, should be taught about the importance of marriage and the family. He noted that both those in favour and against divorce realised the importance of marriage, but those favouring divorce believed that a marriage could be dissolved.
Mr Abela said it was important to see the family in the traditional way, based on the relationship between a man and a woman. No form of arrangement could be equated to marriage.
Among those who intervened from the floor, some said that children aged 16 and over should be allowed to vote in a referendum, a proposal which Mr Abela backed.