'The Church has recognised its separation from the State' - Dalli

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli says, after 25 years, gay families have the civil rights they have been waiting for

The Church in Malta has recognised it division from the State, Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli said.

In an interview with MaltaToday on Sunday, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil accused the government of "silencing" the Church, which took a cautious stand during the debate of the Civil Unions Bill before it was voted into law.

"With his archaic beliefs, Simon Busuttil sees no separation between the Church and the State. On the other hand, the Church has recognised this division," Dalli said.

Addressing a press conference at St Barbara's bastions, Dalli said the government listened to the plight of the members of society whose voice has been ignored for a quarter of century by the previous government.

"We are interested in everyone's civil rights. We are not here for a majority or for votes but to safeguard the interests of everyone. Homosexual families have been waiting for years on end for their rights to be recognised. There was no rushing through."

The parliament last week voted to allow both straight and gay couples the right to enter a civil union. An amendment to a separate law will allow gay couples to adopt, a reality that already existed but never recognised.

The government's next challenge will be the decriminalisation of drugs. But similarly to the 2011 divorce campaign, the issue of abortion has now cropped up again.

"The Labour Movement is categorically against abortion," the minister said. Asked whether gay couples would be allowed to have children through surrogacy, Dalli said the constitution was clear in that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity was prohibited.

"If a person [homosexual or heterosexual] chooses to challenge the government by taking it to the European Court of Human Rights and that person wins the case, the law would be pushed by the EU court and Malta would have to regularise its position according to the judgement."

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