Gonzi commits to gender bill in Gharghur

Prime Minister says new PN government will introduce gender recognition bill

Not much that was genuinely new emerged as the PN's campaign trail stopped by Gharghur last night: but as all the usual messages came trotting out one after the other - don't change horses in midstream, now is not the time to risk, look at what is happening in Spain, France, Cyprus, etc - the Prime Minister found himself confronted by a question that has not been heard anywhere else in the campaign to date.

It came courtesy of Celine: the transgender hairdresser and NET TV celebrity, who acted as compere for yesterday' event. Would a new PN government legislate to recognize the rights and equality of persons who underwent gender reassignment therapy?

To considerable applause the Prime Minister replied with a very clear commitment to enact a gender bill if re-elected after March 9.

Pointing out that a bill to this effect was already before the House - having been tabled by Opposition MP Evarist Bartolo - Gonzi acknowledged that, owing to unforeseen circumstances, it was never debated.

"As we all know this last legislature was somewhat turbulent, and we didn't have the opportunity to discuss this bill before parliament was dissolved," he explained.

The Prime Minister also referred to a number of court rulings on this issue - and without mentioning names he alluded to a case filed by a Maltese national in the European Court of Human Rights, to overturn an earlier local ruling which had prevented her from marrying on grounds of her gender.

The reference was to Joanne Cassar, who - despite undergoing gender reassignment therapy and being officially recognized as a woman - was denied the possibility of marrying her male partner in 2006.

Gonzi explained that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights would be binding, and would force Parliament to pass the necessary laws to avoid falling foul of international human rights legislation.

"So let me clear on this point, a new administration led by myself will pass a gender bill in the next term," he declared.

As for the rest, Gonzi spoke about the economic situation in France, Spain and Cyprus: warning his listeners that people in those countries had no idea, just a few eyears ago, that they would be in such dire straits today. But on account of flawed decisions taken by socialist governments, the financial situation in those countries deteriorated alarmingly in a very short time.

And as in Sta Lucia the night before, he seized on the Times debate to remind voters how Muscat had opposed the privatization of the dockyard.

"Bear in mind we didn't close the dockyard; we privatized it. It is still open and still employing people..."

But, he added, it is no longer a financial millstone around our neck. So if Muscat is allowed to change this country's direction, it can only be a change for the worse.

Hallelujah! It's raining promises again. Such promises should come with a warning that they will expire on the 9th March 2013.
And do you believe Gonzi on transgender after having ignored Bartolo's draft Bill on the subject? Now he says that he is afraid of losing in the European Courts. So was his resistance really about values as he used to say or because of convenience of loosing voters who are still rooted in the belief that the PN is a Catholic Party? In fact I wonder how people like Dr Francis Saliba and Evarist Saliba can find the strength to vote PN after their years of verbal assault on all those who disagreed with them on such issues. Indeed Evarist Saliba wrote a letter attacking the extension of rights to gays in the Times. Will the so-called Catholic faction, which numbers Tonio Borg, Edwin Vassallo, Dr Axiak and others vote PN or will they abstain, indeed leave the PN?
The greed to win an election can really change people's ideals... now people did the right thing when they voted for divorce... and now " a very clear commitment to enact a gender bill if re-elected after March "