On April 14, I went to Valletta, together with people from all walks of life, gay and straight, to witness a wonderful moment in our country’s history, when a Bill and a constitutional amendment were enacted in Parliament to place homosexual citizens on the same level as everyone else.
First, the Civil Unions Bill, giving same-sex couples in a committed relationship the ability to have their union registered and recognised by the State, with the same rights and obligations as marriage. In fact it is a pity that it wasn’t called by its proper name – marriage – but I hope that this unnecessary distinction will be removed in the not too distant future.
This same Bill also addressed the elephant in the room: yes, it would include the right for children being raised by two parents of the same sex to have both of their parents legally recognised, instead of just one.
Also on the same day, a constitutional amendment passed, unanimously. The amendment was proposed by Claudette Buttigieg to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
This amendment was a very important one, since one still hears of people facing discrimination because they’re gay, and it’s unfortunate that Buttigieg was deprived of her opportunity to be with the crowd at such a beautiful occasion – because she deserved to be there with us. She also worked for this.
The PN’s abstention on the Civil Unions Bill did not, in my view, show a united front. On the contrary it showed a party that prevents its MPs from having, or showing, a diversity of views. What’s the use of having both liberal and conservative candidates if, at the end of the day, the party decides how all of them vote?
There’s nothing wrong in having a few votes from the Opposition or government benches that are different from their fellow MPs – in fact, it shows maturity.
Outside Parliament, the moment when the crowd heard that the Bill had passed was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve seen – people hugging, laughing, and crying with happiness. I’ve never seen a new law result in so much joy.
I only wish that the detractors could have seen those faces.
I think that anyone who saw that scene, and heard the testimony of the children of gay parents would have lost any lingering bitterness.