(Adds anti-divorce movement's reaction to Dr Pullicino Orlando's comment, Dr Pullicino Orlando's reply)

If the 'no' vote wins the forthcoming divorce referendum, Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando would change his residency to his daughter's flat in the UK and apply for a divorce online, getting it practically immediately, he said this morning.

Speaking in Marsaxlokk this morning, Dr Pullicino Orlando said while this was possible for someone who was in his situation, it was not for others who were not in the right circumstances.

Divorce Movement head Deborah Schembri said that Malta was the only country in the world which did not have divorce but recognised divorces obtained in other countries.

The Philippines, which was the only other country which did not have divorce, did not recognise foreign ones.

Dr Schembri said it would be ludicrous for Malta not to recognise foreign divorces because then people who obtained divorce from abroad and remarried in Malta would be guilty of bigamy. However, others should not be placed at the unfair position of not being able to obtain a divorce.

A young man in the crowd pointed out he had obtained an annulment from the church and asked Dr Schembri with what authority was she telling him that what God united, the state would be able to put asunder.

Dr Schembri replied that divorce would only affect civil marriages and not church ones.

She complained about the scaremongering that was taking place by the church and the anti-divorce camp and said that studies showed that cohabitation was a less stable form of relationship, where there was less sense of belonging, more domestic violence and a greater risk of break down.

Although there was nothing wrong with cohabitation, people who believed in marriage should not be forced into it.

She criticised the Prime Minister for his comment about the choice being between permanent marriages and marriages that lasted four years.

She said people whose marriage was stable marriage would remain married for life.

Many including President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami, Fr Peter Serracino Inglott and Dr Gonzi, had admitted that divorce would one day come into force in Malta. So why should future but not present generations have divorce, she asked.

Former housing minister Alfred Portelli said that he would be voting yes because he had witnessed first-hand the suffering of people and realised the importance of regularising new relationships with marriage.

JPO'S STATEMENT 'SHOCKING'

In a reaction, the anti-divorce movement said Dr Pullicino Orlando’s statement was shocking and unveiled the real motivation behind the proposed legislation – that of getting what he wanted one way or another.

The movement said it was sad that such a comment was made on the international day dedicated to the family.

With his comment, Dr Pullicino Orlando showed he wanted to reduce the institution of marriage into an exercise of individualistic convenience, it said.

PULLICINO ORLANDO RESERVES RIGHT TO LEGAL ACTION

In a reply to the reaction issued by the anti-divorce movement, Dr Pullicino Orlando reserved the right to take legal action against the movement if its members persisted in attributing improper motives to his actions.

"What is shocking to me is the fact that a number of their (the anti-divorce movement's) exponents
have accused me of presenting a Private Member’s Bill aimed at stimulating a parliamentary debate about divorce for personal reasons.

"I hope that they will now stop attributing improper motives to me. I reserve the right to take legal action if they persist in doing so," he said.

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