Muscat on Marriage Equality Bill: ‘We will not compromise on our principles’

Joseph Muscat says PN MPs who disagree in principle with Bill that will introduce gay marriage should vote against it in Parliament 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat warned the PN that he will not accept any amendments to the landmark Marriage Equality Bill that will in any way distinguish between homosexual and heterosexual people.

Speaking in an interview on One Radio, Muscat said that the Labour government will not compromise on its principles and that the arguments posed in Parliament by some PN MPs during the debate on the Bill – that will introduce gay marriage - betray their true feelings on equality.

PN MPs such as David Agius and Clyde Puli have criticised the proposed law in that it will abolish words such as ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from the legal terminology in favour of more neutral terms.

However, Muscat stood firm and said that he will not accept any amendments from the Opposition that will in any way legally distinguish LGBT+ people from heterosexual ones.

“We don’t yet know what amendments the PN will propose, but I will be clear that if they propose categories such as ‘husband’, ‘wife’, and ‘others’, then it will be a sign that they don’t believe in equality,” he said. “Equality means that everything should be equal for X and Y, and these ideas betray the MPs’ ideas on equality.

“We can compromise on financial, economic and technical issues but we will not compromise on our principles. The Opposition had used the same sort of arguments during the debate on civil unions and the Labour government  had refused to compromise because the law was necessary in today’s world.

“We can’t accept amendments that defeat the purpose of equality.”

The Prime Minister challenged Opposition MPs who disagree with the concept of the Marriage Equality Bill to vote against it in Parliament, arguing that the vote will be a matter of principle and not of political convenience.

“I’m surprised that the Bill has stirred up a debate in Parliament at all,” he said, recounting how outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil had instantly declared himself in favour of gay marriage when he [Muscat] had put the topic up for public discussion last year.

“Busuttil had said that I was trying to deviate attention [from the Panama Papers] and that the issue of gay marriage didn’t even need to be discussed because the PN agreed with it,” Muscat said. “All this panic makes it clear that Busuttil didn’t have his party’s support when he said he agreed with gay marriage. I can’t understand how some Opposition MPs are going to vote in favour of this Bill when they are criticising it so harshly. This isn’t an issue of political convenience but an issue of principles.” 

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