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Muscat promises ‘breakthrough’ for same-sex couples

Labour leader Joseph Muscat by the Freedom monument in Vittoriosa yesterday. Photo: Jason Borg

Labour leader Joseph Muscat by the Freedom monument in Vittoriosa yesterday. Photo: Jason Borg

A Labour Government would introduce civil unions for same-sex couples, set up a consultative council to advise the Government on gay issues and appoint a minister or parliamentary secretary responsible for civil liberties and equality.

This will not be a contract between friends. This will be a real contract for a couple in a relationship...in a family

Labour leader Joseph Muscat yesterday underlined his commitment to the gay community, and promised more steps forward.

Recalling that Labour decriminalised homosexuality 40 years ago, Dr Muscat said civil unions for 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.

But Dr Muscat stopped short of calling for gay marriage, telling The Sunday Times: “What we are proposing for this election is civil unions (not gay marriage). But this will not be a contract between friends. This will be a real contract for a couple in a relationship... in a family.”

Speaking at a seminar organised by LGBT Labour, Dr Muscat said civil unions would not be a simple partnership contract open also to siblings or anyone who cohabits. He also promised this would not be an empty electoral pledge.

Pointing out that this proposal might not be a vote-winner, he said he was determined to convince anyone who disagreed with this position. “This is not about tolerance but about rights and responsibilities,” he said.

A government-funded consultative council made up of NGOs working in the area would be in charge of proposing LGBT-related laws and scrutinising laws across the board from an LGBT perspective, he said.

Dr Muscat also promised to forward a gender identity bill to rectify issues facing the trans community and the widening of the employment commission’s remit to fight gender and sexual orientation discrimination.

He also committed a future government to the signing of Protocol 12 the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination on various grounds.

Earlier, Dr Muscat toured several national monuments where he laid wreaths marked with Labour’s campaign slogan ‘Malta for all’.

Touring monuments around the country marking Independence Day, Freedom Day, Republic Day, Victory Day and Sette Giugno, Dr Muscat emphasised his party’s message of national unity. .

When asked about the party’s energy proposals, Dr Muscat said a number of Maltese and foreign companies had expressed interest in Labour’s plans. He said it would not be prudent to name the companies but they were welcome to make themselves known.

He also stressed that no deal had been struck with any company, as some in the PN were claiming. This showed the contradiction in PN’s criticism, he said, because on one hand the party was saying the private sector would not agree to Labour’s proposals and on the other a deal had already been reached.

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