Cohabitation law in the works - PM

A law regulating cohabitation is in the works and the issue "should be addressed" this year, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

"We're considering a Bill internally and it still hasn't been passed to Cabinet... but this is an issue which should be addressed this year," the Prime Minister said at a meeting in Senglea yesterday.

A law regarding cohabitation has been included in the Nationalist Party's electoral programmes since 1998 and the party has often been criticised for dragging its feet on it.

One of the latest salvos came from within the Nationalist camp, with PN Sliema councillor and gay rights activist Cyrus Engerer criticising the government for not doing anything about the issue.

Asked about this yesterday, Dr Gonzi said: "This issue should be addressed forthwith. Without a law, there is no responsibility. In Malta, a person can live for four years with another person, have children, and one fine day leave with no consequences.

"There must be responsibility, and this is borne of a relationship which has its legal consequences. And I feel it is our duty to do this for society, to introduce responsibility and regulate this reality.

"We have to address society as a whole, and we can let no one get left behind or be in a situation the country doesn't address, so it's our duty to provide laws and services to support all families," Dr Gonzi said.

Speaking at a debate on homosexuality in Malta, organised by student group Move on the University campus last week, Mr Engerer criticised his own party for not having clear policies on the issue.

"We can't keep on speaking about discrimination, marriage and adoption as if gays were any different," he said as he commended Alternattiva Demokratika for being the only party that was clear in its policies on homosexuals.

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