While the Marriage Equality Bill was great news for same-sex couples, it maintained the discriminatory and degrading status quo with regards to irregular migrants, who were denied access to marriage, the aditus foundation said.

It said in a statement that all persons should be entitled to access and enjoy the right to marry and found a family, irrespectively of their sexual orientation, gender identity or other innate characteristics.

"Yet it is ambitious and incorrect to define the Bill as an instrument that will allow all consenting adults to enjoy the right to marry, and a number of concerns ought to be flagged," aditus said.

It said that whereas the Bill focused almost exclusively on broadening marriage for it to include same-sex couples, it maintained the discriminatory and degrading status quo whereby persons in an irregular migration status were denied access to marriage, due to their impossibility of producing the required documentation. The relevant authorities have done very little to seek

"The relevant authorities have done very little to seek alternative options with a view to resolving these difficulties, thereby continuing to deny marriage to an already marginalised population.

"The Bill also ignores the challenges faced by refugees and migrants who remain bound by the civil status declarations they make before the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, usually within days of their arrival in Malta."

There was a need for the government to appreciate the state of mind, thought process and personal circumstances of a person landing Malta – in many cases following a gruelling journey by boat – and declaring the status of single or
married, before taking that statement as eternally binding, it said.

aditus also noted that the Bill also maintained the privileged position enjoyed by Catholic marriages, whereby these were – if validly contracted – recognised by the State, and had the same civil effects as a marriage celebrated under the Marriage Act.

"In an increasingly diverse Maltese society, where religious freedom and non-discrimination are Constitutionally protected, there is no reason why a revised Marriage Act should continue to exclude such recognition to marriages validly celebrated according to the rites of other religions and denominations," it said.

aditus' views, concerns and recommendations can be read in the pdf link below.

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