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PN ‘will support’ gay marriage law, Busuttil insists

Opposition leader dismisses talk of dissent

Archbishop Charles Scicluna

Archbishop Charles Scicluna

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil yesterday threw a damp cloth on rumblings that a small faction within the party was against the proposed Marriage Equality Act, insisting the Opposition would support it.

The Prime Minister said the government did not want to create “two types of marriages”.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna did not mince words when he referred to the proposed changes while speaking during Mass at Siġġiewi.

Speaking during a short radio interview, Dr Busuttil said same-sex marriage already existed “in substance” and this was why the PN would support the proposed legal changes when it was debated in the House.

The Sunday Times of Malta reported yesterday that about five Opposition MPs want a free vote on gay marriage when it is debated in Parliament, saying the Bill as drafted would put same-sex marriage on a higher standing than marriage between a man and a woman.

Dr Busuttil noted yesterday that the Civil Unions Act, introduced three years ago already gave same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples, “a reality the party has accepted”.

Without entering into the merits of whether or not he would allow MPs a free-vote on the matter, Dr Busuttil acknowledged this was a sensitive matter but noted that the PN had already included the proposal in its electoral manifesto. The party, he said, would support the law at all stages in the House of Representatives.

A reality the party has accepted

“We feel the law needs improvement in certain aspects and this is something that can be done in committee stage but it does not change the substance of what the law is proposing,” Dr Busuttil said.

'We don't want two types of marriage' - Muscat

Speaking in a separate radio interview, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat dismissed the notion that the reform would in any way detract from the concept of marriage between a man and a woman.

On the contrary, the reform sought only to put same-sex couples and their marriage on an equal pegging with the existing idea of marriage, he said.

Dr Muscat said the government had opted to reform the marriage laws rather than “strengthen” the civil union legislation because the government did not want to create “two types of marriage”.

“This was a philosophical question we asked ourselves and we based our position on the principle that marriage between a couple, whoever they may be, should be equal,” he said.

Referring to former Labour leader Dom Mintoff, Dr Muscat said he was “proud” his administration was following in the “progressive footsteps” the late prime minister had taken when he first introduced the concept of marriage by the State rather than exclusively through the Church.

“It was extremely progressive for its time and I am so proud we are picking this up and continuing on this journey forward,” he said.

No need to change - Archbishop

Mgr Scicluna said the faithful should pray so that, in deciding on what sort of marriage to go for, they would choose to “remain with Jesus”.

“We are not against gays…They are human beings who have every right to expect us to respect and love them… But we do not need to change the way in which God created marriage so we would be able to say that two men or two women can get married,” he said.

He noted that the Bill proposed to do away with the terms man and woman and father and mother. One was free to change the words in the law but, however the law defined it, marriage would remain the exclusive and everlasting unity between a man and a woman with children being the fruit of their love. Whatever the law stated, two men or two women would never be able to have children unless there was the help of a third party or technology, Mgr Scicluna added.

“This is the tragedy, that we would like to make children rather than welcome them as a gift, the fruit of love of a man and a woman who are married. To us, children have become a product, the fruit of technology. When man succumbs to such temptation and allows technology to take over, he may not be strengthening his own dignity,” he said.

The faithful should teach their children and grandchildren that marriage should continue to be what God willed it to be, always in full respect of the law.

“They brought us Christians to a point where we have to declare we do not agree with the law of the State,” the Archbishop said.

The first reading of the Bill, practically giving notice to Parliament about a new law to be debated, was held on Saturday. The draft is expected to be published this morning, a few hours before the House starts considering the changes in detail first through contributions by individual MPs (second reading) and then in committee stage when the House goes through the Bill article by article.

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