Dear Members of Parliament, kindly consider these facts and discuss before voting.
- The Marriage Act and other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2017 is not just about changing the name of Civil Unions Act. If it was just the name legislator does not need to introduce a new act of 37 pages.
- Change in name – no longer the originally proposed “Marriage Equality Act‟ but the “Marriage Act and other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2017‟. Unlike most foreign Marriage Equality laws– the notion of equality was specifically removed from the title. In fact a thorough study of this bill shows clearly that it is not about bringing gay marriage at par with heterosexual marriage, but introducing the former whilst eliminating inherent concepts of the latter.
- Conscientious Objection: the bill does not give enough protection to conscientious objection it limits itself to merely religious protection. Further Articles need to be added, such as the following proposals:
The bill should guarantee the protection of conscientious objection to all individuals , including, guaranteeing anyone in Malta to remain free to choose who may use their facilities and halls for marriage ceremonies and celebrations, to whom they rent their housing accommodations, or to whom they provide their services consistent with their principles.
- “conceived and born to the parties” – will now be connotated to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Yet it is a biological fact that gay couples cannot conceive or give birth to children. This Bill presupposes illegal mechanisms such as surrogacy and gamete donation. Presuppositions of surrogacy and gamete donation entail the undermining of the Embryo Protection Act.
- Paramount Interest of the child: with regards to the mechanism of repudiation, child protection is done away with, leaving repudiation open to any circumstance upon the presentation of a genetic tests, whilst before it was limited to four circumstances. With regards to gay couples the child would even more be exposed to repudiation since s/he will never result to be the genetic child of both of them! Without acknowledgment there is no obligation of the spouse to provide maintenance to the child!
- Vocabulary: Note that motherhood, fatherhood, maternity and paternity will no longer form part of our vocabulary this does not reflect equality or respect towards others who profoundly cherish the meaning of these words. Does this mean abolition of ‘Mothers’ Day’ and ‘Father’s Day’?
The bill imposes on those couples who wish to use the terms “wife‟ and “husband‟ to use “spouses” in public documents and to use ‘Parent’ instead of mother and father. This bill should be about equality and not abolition of heterosexual couples. Thus it would be recommended that they be given a choice whether to choose for e.g. wife and husband or spouses not eliminating the choice.
One of the amendments to the Interpretation Act will be: Words importing the feminine gender shall include males. The word mother shall include father and vice versa. While this amendment says –‘includes’ in reality these words have been eliminated from the other amended laws.
This act is not about true equality but elimination of such terms like mother, father, husband and wife and the complementarity of men and women – which have deep anthropological connotations. If this is just about marriage equality, this law should only offer an option and not eliminate the existing marriage as it is. This act is about bringing a culture change and not merely changing the name of a law. Motherhood and fatherhood have loaded meanings which have been proven to play an essential role in the pedagogical formation and the development of children.
We urge the Members of Parliament to consider these facts before taking a vote on this Bill.
Dr Miriam Sciberras BChD (Hons), MA Bioethics
obo Life Network Foundation Malta