Divorce legislation could go through Parliament without opposing parliamentarians compromising their personal values, according to MP Beppe Fenech Adami, who strongly opposes the bill presented in the referendum.
“What Parliament needs to pass this law is a majority and I think there will be a majority in favour of the introduction of divorce without the vote of those who feel strongly about not voting in favour,” he told The Times after the referendum result.
The Nationalist party took an official position against the introduction of divorce, even though the private member’s Bill had been presented by their own backbencher Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.
Moreover, a number of parliamentary members publicly opposed its introduction and although the referendum vote showed the public want divorce to be introduced, the law can only pass with a majority vote in Parliament.
Non-committal about the way he would eventually vote, Dr Fenech Adami said the next step was for the parliamentary groups to discuss the way forward on the matter.
Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo, who has publicly opposed divorce, preferred not to comment before discussing it with his parliamentary group. “My position is already known,” he said. Parliamentary secretary Mario Galea, who had voiced his opinion against divorce, said that MPs like himself now had a delicate decision to make.
Still undecided about how he would vote in Parliament, he said he would either oppose the Bill or abstain.
“A good portion of voters expressed their position against and their voice also needs to be heard,” he said, pointing out that it was also a matter of conscience for every parliamentarian.
Speaking to The Times about the referendum result, parliamentary secretary Mario de Marco said this was a learning process for many and it was critical that the country would emerge united.
“It is moreover important that as a nation this issue should now be put behind us as quickly as possible and that any wounds of disunity are healed,” he said.
The nation had spoken and it was now important for Parliament to respect the will of the nation as expressed in the referendum, he continued.
“It is therefore important that as a Parliament and as a government we proceed to the next phase which will involve a debate and a vote on a bill intended to reflect the result of the referendum,” he said.
Labour parliamentarians Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Carmelo Abela, who had previously voiced their opinion against divorce, refused to comment when contacted by The Times yesterday.
Nationalist MP Charlo Bonnici would not comment either before the parliamentary group discussion planned for today.
Health Minister Joe Cassar said when contacted that the Prime Minister had already made the party’s reaction clear and refused to comment further.
Ministers Austin Gatt, Tonio Fenech and Giovanna Debono were unreachable.