Cohabitation law still to be wrapped up
A law on cohabitation is lying on Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi’s desk as a pledge to publish it by the end of the year goes unfulfilled.
Following the divorce referendum, the Nationalist Party planned to speed up the long-awaited laws to regulate cohabitation and IVF. The aim was to conclude all three controversial social issues well before the next election.
Only last July, days before divorce legislation was approved in Parliament, Dr Gonzi had announced that the cohabitation Bill would be published by the end of 2011.
In August, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry went a step further and said it would be presented to Parliament right after the summer recess. However, the law has not materialised yet and sources say it has been passed on by the Justice Ministry to the Office of the Prime Minister. Questioned about the delay, a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said preparations for the publication of the Bill were “well underway”.
“(The Bill) will be published after being discussed within the (Nationalist) parliamentary group and finalised,” the spokesman added, without giving any reasons for the missed deadline.
The Nationalist Party has been promising a cohabitation law since the 1998 election. During the divorce referendum, the Prime Minister was challenged to publish the law for separated couples to see how it would compare to a divorce law. However, this was never done.
Since divorce now effectively caters for most separated couples, the cohabitation laws are likely to affect siblings, gay couples and those who are still waiting to get divorced or remarry.
Just over a month ago, the PN approved a policy document calling for legislation affecting non-married, including homosexual, couples. Arguing that the state “cannot be blind” to the value non-married couples place on their personal relationships, the document went on to note that the state “must legislate wherever necessary to establish the rights and responsibilities of such relationships for both heterosexuals and homosexuals”.