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PN is not liberal - Tonio Borg

Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg passionately defended the conservative ideals of the Nationalist Party yesterday during a political activity where he spoke about rent reform.

"The Nationalist Party is not a liberal party; we are Christian Democrats. We will only protect those who deserve protection," he said, referring to the government's rent reform proposals which have so far excluded protection of cohabiting and gay couples.

The Labour Party has criticised the reform for not catering for "today's realities", leaving such couples without a right to inherit the properties from their partners.

Speaking at a political activity in Balzan yesterday, Dr Borg brought up the issue again, saying that the Nationalist Party had a "social conscience" it had to abide by.

His words echoed the speech he gave in Parliament recently when responding to Labour's criticism - a speech that was described by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo as "offensive, cynical and derisory".

Dr Borg had said the aim of the rent reform was to protect "those who deserved protection" by restricting who can inherit the rented property.

"That's all we need now! After we've finally decided to limit inheritance to married couples and children, now we are expected to extend this protection to those who decide to go and live with someone of the same sex," he said in Parliament.

He argued that restricting inheritance to married couples would help to cut out abuse, whereas with gay or cohabitating couples things would get tricky because there is no documentation involved.

"Do you think we should create a register for those who are cohabitating?" he suggested sarcastically, addressing the Labour Party.

"So first you say you are against gay marriage, and then you say that the land owners should not only have to deal with married tenants but even those who went abroad, to Holland, to marry someone of the same sex and then returned to Malta expecting to be recognised by the landowner..."

Writing in Malta Today, Dr Bartolo said yesterday that, if the government had kept its promise to establish rights and obligations between couples who cohabitated, this would not have been an issue.

He added that Dr Borg's "sarcastic and cynical tone on gay couples was in stark contrast to what the PN told gay people during last year's electoral campaign".

PN MEP candidate Edward Demicoli says he is in favour of "the same civil rights" for cohabitating and gay couples, his stance highlighting a long-standing ideological divide within the Nationalist Party on such issues.

cperegin@timesofmalta.com

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