Malta will not be removing its ban on surrogacy but would be obliged to comply with a European Court of Human Rights decision should this be contested in the court, according to Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli.

Asked yesterday whether the government was considering amending the law to allow surrogacy so that gay couples may have biological (as opposed to adopted) children, Dr Dalli said the government had no intention of doing so.

Currently, surrogate motherhood is illegal in Malta (for both gay and heterosexual couples). However a motion was approved last week in Parliament stating that no person can be discriminated against on the basis of his or her sexual orientation, Dr Dalli said.

If a person decided to take the government to the European Court of Human Rights, the government would be obliged to comply with the ruling, as would have happened in the case of transgender Joanne Cassar (who was initially prohibited from marrying) if the new government had not settled her case out of court.

Asked whether the government was considering legalising abortion, Dr Dalli replied with a categorical “no”. Next in line, she said, was the tabling of laws on cohabitation and on gender identity.

Speaking on the new civil unions law, the minister said that it was testament to the Labour government’s will to look forward and that of the Opposition to look backwards.

She said that former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had said adoption applications should not be decided according to one’s sexual orientation but by a team of professionals who decided in the child’s interest.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil was going back on Dr Gonzi’s stance by stating the government had no mandate to allow same sex couples the right to apply for adoption.

“The Labour Movement looks forward and also looks out for the interests of all the citizens. It was a journey through which we learned, matured and understood the realities of children of gay couples.”

Asked about the cautious stance taken by the Church on the civil unions bill, Dr Dalli said the Church had recognised its separation from the state.

“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

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