Updated 28 September with result
A group of 16 students in favour of abortion have dropped out from a National Youth Parliament (KNZ) debate on the subject, after their names were leaked to pro-life activists and shared on social media.
The National Youth Parliament, an annual event that sees young people aged between 13 and 35 present, debate and vote on current affairs issues, was held earlier on Tuesday. The topic for this year's session was abortion.
Students apply to take part in the annual debate, submitting their nominations on either side of the debate.
Just under 60 students were originally set to participate in this year's debate about abortion - 30 against abortion and 27 in favour. But 16 of them dropped out in recent weeks, leaving just 11 students to feature on the pro-choice side during Tuesday's debate.
The five amendments presented by the pro-life side on the proposals of the pro-choice side passed. On the other hand, the five amendments presented by the pro-choice side on the proposals of the pro-life side did not pass.
Both were due to block votes.
Names leaked online
Contacted for a comment, KNŻ national officer Bradley Cachia said students started dropping out after a list of names of those who were in favour of abortion was leaked to pro-life activist Simon DeBono, who then published it on social media.
Times of Malta is informed that many of the students who dropped out did so for fear they would face academic repercussions if some of their conservative lecturers learnt of their views.
The KNŻ already condemned the leak, saying this was "immature".
Cachia acknowledged that the leak came from individual participants of the National Youth Parliament but said they could not pinpoint who might have leaked the list.
When contacted, DeBono told Times of Malta that it was "irrelevant" where the list of names came from.
"Public funds are going into the financing of the KNZ and every taxpayer has the right to know what is being done with his tax money," he said.
Following the debate, Labour MP Randolph Debattista said that he was "shocked and annoyed" to learn that there should have been more students at the debate but many had dropped out.
"It is never acceptable that we discourage youths, whoever they may be, from making their voices heard. Today, the country's highest institution saw courageous youths from both sides speak about what they believe in," Debattista said.