Gay lobby – Gonzi ‘anything but defender of child’s best interests’

‘The problem is not the Civil Union Act but the firmly entrenched belief that the best interest of the child can only be met by heterosexual family models’ – MGRM

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja
MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja

The problem is not the Civil Union Act but the firmly entrenched belief that only heterosexual couples can safeguard the children’s best interests, the Malta Gay Rights Movement said.

The LGBTI community was replying to an opinion penned by former Nationalist prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, who broke the silence and came out in defence of Opposition leader Simon Busuttil’s stance to abstain on a civil unions bill that accorded the right to same-sex couples in a union, to adopt children.

“Heterosexual couples do not have a right to adopt. It is only children who have a right to be adopted by the best possible adoptive parents. It is indeed very sad that this government has subjected the child’s best interests to those of someone else,” Gonzi said.

Taking umbrage at his comments, the MGRM said the Civil Union Act did not introduce the right to adoption into Maltese law.

“It simply established the principle of equality, at par with marriage, and the right for same-sex couples to be considered as potential adoptive persons should this be judged to be in the child’s best interest by the adoption board set up to administer such matters,” MGRM said.

This distinction was repeatedly made by a number of government MPs and LGBTI activists.

“The problem is not the Civil Union Act and the rights and obligations that it grants to same-sex couples but the firmly entrenched belief that the best interest of the child can only be met by heterosexual family models, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding,” the gay community argued.

Accusing Gonzi of “knowingly distorting the truth”, MGRM said it had always known Gonzi as being a man of integrity.

“[Gonzi] has every right to express his disagreement but his willful misinterpretation of the law. MGRM may have not always seen eye to eye with Dr Gonzi but the movement always believed he was a man of integrity. It is hard to maintain this belief when Dr Gonzi knowingly chooses to distort the truth.”

In his opinion, Gonzi argued that the Bill was originally drafted by the PN government.

“It was a difficult piece of legislation but we were prepared to legislate because we always felt that the time was ripe for a couple living together to have a legal framework that establishes duties and responsibility emanating from a stable relationship,” the former PN leader said, referring to the cohabitation act which was later changed to Civil Partnership and Cohabitation Act.

However, the current Civil Union Act bears no resemblance whatsoever to the cohabitation bill drawn up by the PN in 2012.

“What the PN was willing to legislate for was minimal rights and recognition, most of which same-sex couples could already access through a notarial deed. Despite being cognisant of the position of the LGBT movement the PN government chose to put forward a bill which the LGBT community itself did not endorse,” MGRM said.

The LGBTI community argued that the disservice being perpetrated was not to the adoptive process, but to LGBT persons and their families.

“Dr Gonzi and his ilk are compromising the truth, making of them liars and cheats and anything but defenders of the best interests of children,” it said.

MGRM said research findings were being ignored: an astounding 22% of women in Malta experience sexual and physical violence by their male partners; this figure goes up to 37% when psychological violence is also taken into account.

Many children, the offspring of such relationships, are also witnesses to this abuse. At the same time, child protection services, children in out of home care and family therapy services are dealing with an ever-increasing caseload.

“Heterosexuality in and of itself does not make one a loving and respectful partner or a suitable parent. Neither does homosexuality. Sexual orientation is simply irrelevant.”

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