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Bill on same-sex civil unions by summer

A Bill on civil unions for same-sex couples will be moved in Parliament before the summer recess, Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli said yesterday.

The Bill, she said, was one of the main priorities of a new consultative council set up to address LGBT issues.

The council will be chaired by Cyrus Engerer while organisations represented on the council are the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM),  Drachma, Drachma Parents Support Group, the students group ‘We Are’,  ADITUS and LGBT Labour.

She said the council was formed in the wake of a first reading in Parliament last week of a Bill to amend the Civil Code, to enable people who undergo gender re-assignment to marry a person of the opposite gender.

This followed the settlement reached with Joanne Cassar who dropped proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights against the Maltese Government after she was denied the right to marry.

Dr Dalli said the council will also re-visit the Gender Identity Bill which had been submitted to Parliament by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo three years ago.

She said it was government policy to respect all people in the context of diversity and stressed the need for society to address homophobia through improved education.

This will be another issue on which the council is expected to work, along with tackling harassment and bullying in schools.

“Children must be exposed to education and information on such issues from a very early age,” Dr Dalli said.

Addressing hate crimes was also among the Government’s priorities, she said, adding that education should focus on celebrating diversity and fighting prejudice.

“The Government believes in an open and free society which safeguards human rights and fundamental liberties where everyone can fulfil her or his aspirations.”

Mr Engerer and the organisations on the consultative council will receive no remuneration.

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