The Malta Gay Rights Movement and human rights NGO aditus in a joint statement have condemned the government for its incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive as is applies to same-sex couples.
The MGRM said it had been raising the issue of the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive for some time now, both with the European Commission through its affiliation with ILGA-Europe, as well as with local politicians.
Through the intervention of MP Evarist Bartolo it submitted a Parliamentary Question regarding the government’s position with respect to the freedom of movement of same-sex couples wishing to enter and reside in Malta.
"The responses received were evasive and unsatisfactory," it said.
The incorrect transposition of the directive was also discussed in a meeting held recently with Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici.
"The Minister denied any knowledge of the issue and stated his preference for dealing with such situations on a case-by-case basis."
The groups said that despite Malta’s absolute policy of non-recognition of same-sex marriages, registered partnerships or any form of same-sex relationship, the Freedom of Movement Directive is nonetheless obligatory. A
Neil Falzon, aditus Chairman, explained that the directive requires the competent authorities to facilitate the entry and residence of a third country national’s same-sex spouse or partner, as long as the relationship is a durable one. Furthermore, the directive also obliges the authorities to justify any denial of entry or residence to such persons.
Where both members of the couple are EU citizens, the lack of a cross-border recognition of their same-sex union leads to the anomalous situation where, upon relocation to Malta, they effectively lose their civil status, together with the attendant rights and responsibilities attached to such status. Where one member of the couple is a third country national, Malta denies the right to freedom of movement by refusing to facilitate entry and residence, as clearly required by the directive, the NGOs said.
"This ultimately results in the couple being required to move to another EU Member State that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, or to possibly end the relationship if relocation is undesirable or impracticable. This simply because it is too bigoted to recognise the inherent dignity in all persons and that love between two people should be celebrated and acknowledged irrespective of the gender of the couple."
In their statement, the groups said it was reprehensible that the Government of Malta hid behind a self-determined policy of same-sex relationships being 'against public policy', in justifying its homophobic and discriminatory stance, and in effect negating and denying the legitimacy and worth of thousands of local, loving same-sex relationships.
Gabriella Calleja, MGRM Co-ordinator, said: “Malta’s current policy approach results in a possible violation of the directive, and an intrusion in the private and family lives of EU citizens and, where applicable, their same- sex spouses or partners”.
"This approach also effectively inhibits the freedom of movement of persons within the EU, consequently also discouraging human and financial investment in Malta."
The two groups said that they recognised and affirmed the inherent dignity of all persons. They appealed for the acknowledgement and celebration of love between two people, irrespective of their sexual orientation.
They therefore applauded the European Commission for taking concrete steps in addressing the incorrect transposition of the Freedom of Movement Directive, and urged the Maltese Government to respect all EU citizens by reconsidering its policy of absolute non-recognition of same-sex relationships.