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Labour promises civil unions for same-sex couples

Labour leader Joseph Muscat has committed to introducing civil unions for same-sex couples, saying this would not be a simple partnership contract open to everyone including siblings.

Recalling the fact that Labour decriminalised homosexuality 40 years ago, Dr Muscat said this would be the next big breakthrough for the LGBT community.

"Hopefully we will not have to wait another 40 years for more steps forward," he said, after explaining how his own views on the subject had evolved both as an MEP and as Labour leader.

He said a Labour government was committed to the introduction of civil unions for gay couples and this was not just an empty pre-electoral pledge.

He said this measure would probably not be a vote-catcher but he was determined to convince those who disagreed with him.

"This is not about tolerance but about rights and responsibilities," he said.

Dr Muscat said he would also appoint a minister or parliamentary secretary for civil rights and equality and set up a consultative council to advise government on LGBT issues so that laws across the board are tailored to the needs of the community. This would include LGBT-related NGOs.

Dr Muscat also promised to forward a gender identity bill to rectify issues facing the trans community. A Labour government would also widen the remit of the employment commission to fight gender and sexual orientation discrimination.

Speaking a seminar on LGBT rights by LGBT Labour, Dr Muscat also committed a future government to the signing of Protocol 12 the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination on various grounds.

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