Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said today that rejection of divorce at the referendum on Saturday would mean that 'spiritual terrorism' and 'brainwashing' would have prevailed.

Speaking at a rowdy discussion on divorce organised by MaltaToday, Dr Pullicino Orlando said the Church and the 'no' movement were persisting in scaremongering.

Rejection of the responsible divorce that was being proposed would rest on the conscience of the leaders of the 'no' movement when, in 10 years' time, Malta faced the problems of a huge number of children born out of wedlock, Dr Pullicino Orlando said.

By that time, he feared, Malta would resort to irresponsible divorce as an urgent measure to try to solve a problem which would have been allowed to grow. That would be typically Maltese management by crisis.

Dr Pullicino Orlando was speaking from the floor in a debate where the main speakers were Deborah Schembri, leader of the Divorce Movement, and Robert Tufigno for the anti-divorce camp. Both re-stated the positions of their respective movements.

Dr Pullicino Orlando gave a passionate speech where he rejected claims that his actions in triggering the process leading to the referendum was motivated by personal interests.

He said he never hid his personal situation. He was also very offended when he heard the spokesmen for the 'no' camp speak about the ideal family, because he considered his own family as ideal.

Dr Pullicino Orlando said he was not the one who had proposed the referendum. What he had done was to propose a private motion in parliament for the introduction of divorce. He had not rushed anything, contrary to what some people were saying.

The Nationalist MP said two events had led him to act. The first were comments by (Cana Movement founder) Mgr Charles Vella, who had said that it was about time that the country discussed solutions for people having marital problems. Mgr Vella also said that divorce did not scare him, but the 'no' movement were now showing themselves to be scared of what Mgr Vella said.

The second was the manner how Alternattiva Demokratika had demonstrated the possibility of introducing responsible divorce on the Irish model.

He appealed to the 'no' movement to stop saying that there was a divorce 'without reason' because that insulted all those who went through the traumatic annulment, separation or divorce.

Other speakers from the floor included businessman Kevin DeCesare. He said had been separated for 17 years and he felt that the 'no' movement was not showing any empathy for people such as himself, who were separated, since they were effectively being told to stay in their current situation.

He said he had considered seeking annulment, but he could not get around telling his children that his marriage did not exist, as implied by annulment.

He could afford to get divorce from abroad but he insisted on getting it from his own country.

Robert Tufigno in reply, said he empathised with Mr DeCesare and people in his situation, but the model of permanent marriage was what should be bequeathed to the next generation, rather than a different model.

Dr Schembri said that when the 'no' movement spoke of the heritage of marriage, it was worth remembering that that also included a substantial number of broken marriages.

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