PN launches equal opportunities movement

PN leader says movement in line with party's lasting commitment to fight all forms of discrimination.

PN launches an equal rights movement
PN launches an equal rights movement

The Nationalist Party today launched an equal opportunities movement which will be charged with promoting equality within the party and propose policies.

PN leader Simon Busuttil said the creation of the new movement is in line with the party's lasting commitment to fight all forms of discrimination and recent statutory changes.

"The movement's aims include the development of policies which address discrimination at all levels of society," he said.

The new movement which followed the creation of a movement for professionals within the party, Busuttil said, confirmed that PN’s commitment to renew itself and that it had understood the electorate’s message.

He added that the movement was another step towards addressing gender imbalance following the PN’s statutory changes which guarantee gender equality within the party’s elected structures, including the executive council and sectional committees.

Although Busuttil dismissed the idea of introducing similar rules in the selection of candidates, Busuttil said that the new formula was a great success at a local level and “changed the party’s composition in a matter of months.”

However, “internal rules regulating gender balance will lead to achieving a better balance in our candidate lists,” Busuttil said.   

Busuttil also noted that the movement, which will be approving its statute and committee members in the coming weeks, will also include LGBTI activists within its ranks.

Noting that the party had tabled a private member's bill to entrench a clause in the Constitution against sexual discrimination, Busuttil said, “among others our statute clearly says that persons should not be discriminated because of their sexual orientation and we will obviously give LGBTI activists space in this movement.”

Asked for his reaction to the proposal by an evangelical pastor to hold an abrogative referendum over the civil union bill, Busuttil stressed that the party had nothing to do with the initiative, adding that it would be premature to comment on a referendum given the complex process needed to hold it.

Busuttil added that the movement was mainly made up of "new faces" who we're getting involved in politics for the first time in their lives.

The movement, predominantly made up of women, will however not be replacing the PN's women movement, Busuttil said, adding that the party did not want to uproot a branch which has been a fixture within the PN's structures for a very long time.

In reaction to the launch of the PN’s new movement, the Labour Party pointed out that the opposition “wasn’t backing the civil union bill” which it said was the biggest step forward for equality in Malta in recent years.

“It’s a farcical irony weren’t it tragic,” the Labour Party added.

The Nationalist Party has so far said that it was in favour of the bill “in principle,” however it moved a number of amendments which the opposition said would circumvent "possible detriments to society."

The amendments, mainly aimed at removing references to adoption of children by couples in a civil union, were rejected by government and were not included in the law.

The bill is currently awaiting its third reading before it can be sent to the President to sign it into law.