Husbands could take wives’ surnames under marriage equality Bill

Marriage Equality Bill could see men given the choice to take their wives' surnames upon marriage 

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli addresses a press conference.
Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli addresses a press conference.

Husbands may soon be able to adopt their wives’ surnames as part of a Bill currently being drafted by Helena Dalli’s civil liberties ministry.

Dalli announced on Tuesday that a Bill to legalise gay marriage is in the pipeline. Fielding questions from MaltaToday at the end of a press conference today, her policy co-ordinator Silvan Agius said that the Bill is not solely intended to legalise same-sex marriage, but streamline marriage legislation across the board.

“This Bill will not only take into account the rights of homosexuals, but also those of heterosexuals. One of the issues being discussed in the surname regime – as it stands, men can take their wives’ surnames if they enter into a civil union with them but not if they marry them. The ultimate aim is to have equality across the board.”

He later confirmed with MaltaToday that the government has no plans to abolish civil unions, but leave couples both gay and straight with as wide a choice as possible – to cohabit, enter a civil union or get married.

Partit Demokratiku was quick to voice its support for the proposals, saying on Facebook that it agrees with equal rights for married gay people.

 

Dalli vehemently rejected the Opposition’s claim that the government timed the announcement of the Marriage Equality Bill as a stunt to divert public attention from the Panama Papers scandal.

“It is amazing that as a country we can spend three weeks talking about pastizzi without it being considered a diversionary tactic, but then I am accused of employing such tactics when asked a simple question from a foreign delegate at a conference.”

She said she could not confirm whether gay marriage will be introduced before or after the upcoming general election, arguing that such a decision was Cabinet’s prerogative.

Dalli and Agius were addressing a press conference at the Grand Master’s Palace, ahead of a high-level EU meeting on LGBTIQ+ equality mainstreaming.

During the press conference, Transgender Europe – a network of European LGBTIQ+ NGOs – launched an updated version of a policy document for trans-people across Europe.

Transgender Europe’s policy officer Richard Kohler quipped that the document has been nicknamed the “Malta edition” because of its frequent references to pro-transperson legislation recently introduced on the island.

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