‘Political parties have messed it up’ – divorce movements

Addressing a debate organised by AZAD, the movements fronting the divorce campaign said the inclusion of political parties will force people to vote according to party lines rather than what they believe in.

Uncharacteristically of opposing parties, the Moviment Iva ghad-Divorzju and the Moviment Zwieg Bla Divorzju have managed to agree on one thing: the divorce issue has been politicised and this should have never been the case.

Represented by Deborah Schembri and Martin Scicluna, and Joyce Cassar and Austin Bencini respectively, the movements were participating in a debate organised by AZAD this morning.

Bencini hit out at the political parties saying they could not have messed things around more than they have done – to which Scicluna agreed.

“In all democratic countries, this would have been solved in parliament and not thrown out to the people,” Scicluna said. “This is why we elect parliamentarians.”

Bencini also said the referendum campaign is becoming “too personal” with people constantly being attacked: “We have to give people the time to speak without being attacked or accused for what they say.”

Bencini added if any “abuse is taking place, then it's up to the responsible parties to address it.”

Coincidentally, this week the Moviment Zwieg Bla Divorzju claimed the media is engaging in a “systematic bullying campaign” against its members, after MaltaToday revealed that the Cabinet’s deputy secretary, Frans Borg, was taking a front-seat role in the ‘no’ lobby.

Bencini reiterated the movement’s position that divorce is not the solution for marital breakdown and the state should intervene to safeguard marriages.

“I am in favour of marriage as the foundation of the Maltese society,” he said, adding that 90% of the marriages in Malta are strong. “This goes to show the Maltese society is still producing strong families.”

Replying to this remark, Schembri said the movement never said divorce is the solution to problems, but reiterated it gives peace to the parties who do not want to have nothing to do with each other and move onto a new life and a new family.

“If they do not want to remarry it’s their choice – no one is forcing them to divorce marry again if they do not want to,” she argued.

Whilst recognising family as the “bedrock of the Maltese society”, Scicluna said: “I believe in divorce because I am firmly against hypocrisy, dogma and intolerance and I believe in justice, fairness and civil rights.”

He said without divorce, people are being denied the right to remarry: “For this is what divorce is all about: remarriage after legal separation.”

Referring to the referendum question, Bencini said the question is “loaded”, whilst voters will be asked to vote on a small section of the bill. “In reality people do not know what the bill consists of,” he said, adding more information should be made available.

To this, Cassar added that even though the ‘four-years clause’ is included in the referendum question, it does not necessarily mean that it will stay like this forever.

Partly agreeing to this, Schembri said that it however imposes moral obligations on future legislators, binding them to respect the voters’ choice.

Cassar argued that people are not understanding the implications which divorce will bring with it. She argued that if divorce will be introduced because of minority rights, then it will create a mindset that will push forward abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriages.

“What are we going to do then? How are you going to defend these minorities’ rights?” she asked. Cassar said that even these people are a minority and, based on the argument of minority concepts, they should be granted what they want.

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