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Gianluca: I was not talking about the civil unions law

Speech at Nationalist Party general council sparks furore on social media

Gianluca Bezzina speaking at the PN general council on Sunday.

Gianluca Bezzina speaking at the PN general council on Sunday.

Singing doctor Gianluca Bezzina has blamed inexperience at public speaking for the backlash caused by his speech at the Nationalist Party general council on Sunday.

The fallout from his speech gained momentum on social media, but Dr Bezzina yesterday insisted he never had civil unions in mind when he expressed concern over society’s increasing liberal streak.

Many in the gay community interpreted Dr Bezzina’s words as referring to the civil unions law enacted last year. It gave gay unions the rights and obligations of marriage.

But speaking to Times of Malta, Dr Bezzina said his inexperience meant he may not have explained himself well.

“My concern is the pattern whereby governments, not only in Malta, give people what they want as long as they do not lose votes. I fear that, in the future, this may lead to political parties embracing issues like abortion that challenge the right to life, which I cherish so dearly,” he said.

Since I wanted to remain politically neutral I decided to speak on what I felt strongly about

Asked what he was referring to when speaking of “legislation” that changed society’s values, Dr Bezzina said he was not referring to anything in particular.

“There have been a number of issues that have changed our society, such as divorce, the spring hunting vote, civil unions... and I’m not saying they changed it for the worse. These issues have made our society more tolerant.”

His comments sparked such a furore, Dr Bezzina had to clarify on his Facebook page on Monday, explaining that civil unions were never on his mind when he spoke as he did at the PN general council.

The post received more than 700 likes, more than 50 comments and almost 50 shares, with most of the people who left comments congratulating him for having the courage to speak his mind.

However, it also elicited negative reactions, with Silvan Agius, policy coordinator at the Civil Liberties Ministry, asking Dr Bezzina to identify the laws he felt had challenged society’s morality.

The online barrage did not spare Dr Bezzina’s Wikipedia entry, which was changed by unknown individuals to include reference to his speech under the heading “Value of Values”.

Despite the brouhaha that erupted, Dr Bezzina did not regret accepting the invitation to address the PN council. “It was an opportunity to make my voice heard in favour of life. What I really regret is the way gay people interpreted my comments, since I never pointed a finger at civil unions.”

The former Eurovision representative said he was not interested in politics but was concerned about issues that affected children’s rights. His job as a doctor was to safeguard life, he noted.

“Part of my job is to see people living happily and enjoying their rights and civil unions are part of those rights, which is why I never said anything about them,” he said.

Dr Bezzina accepted the invitation to speak because PN leader Simon Busuttil and those around him assured him he would remain neutral. “I have no interest in either the PN or Labour... I was given suggestions to speak about some issues that are more politically inclined – current affairs –but since I wanted to remain politically neutral I decided to speak on what I felt strongly about.”

kurt.sansone@timesofmalta.com

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