Three MPs this morning spoke in favour of legislation which would recognise gay couples and grant them some rights.

The MPs, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Karl Gouder from the PN, and Owen Bonnici from the PL, spoke at an activity organised by student organisation MOVE at the University. Also taking part was Sliema deputy mayor Cyrus Engerer.

During the activity, MOVE officials said a survey they had commissioned showed that 56.5 per cent of University students were in favour of recognition of same sex marriages, up from 43 per cent in a similar survey last year.

The survey, however, showed that a slim majority was against adoptions by same same sex couples. 30% agreed and 18.1% were undecided. The percentage of those in favour was up by 6.6% over last year.

The three MPs did not specify what sort of gay union the state should recognise.

Dr Pullicino Orlando said he could not understand why the state should not recognise a responsible union of two individuals of the same sex, and he totally disagreed with a comment by Foreign Minister Tonio Borg who, during the rent law debate in parliament, had spoken of the state being lumped with gay couples (jitqanna bil-gays) when the issue of inheritance cropped up.

Dr Pullicino Orlando also expressed himself in favour of adoptions by gay couples in a regulated environment. What was important was a loving, caring environment, he said, not the sexual orientation of the 'parents'.

Dr Bonnici agreed, but said that prior to adoptions by gay couples, society needed to be better prepared and educated, as he feared that there could be prejudice against children raised by gay couples. He also argued that the cohabitation bill was only a feeble attempt to address some issue of gay couples' rights. Some form of gay unions law was needed as soon as possible, he said.

Mr Gouder noted that the Nationalist Party was changing some of its views, including those on gay rights, spurred by what happened during the divorce debate.

Cyrus Engerer said that as legislation now stood, gay people were not even considered second class. They were inexistent.

The MPs agreed that the majority of MPs from both parties were probably against recognition of same-sex marriages, but many were in favour of recognition of same-sex couples, particularly, Mr Engerer said, in the PL, where there might be a majority.

The survey also questioned students on a number of other issues.

Only 13.4 per cent of university students believe that the current pension scheme will be adequate for them. 53.7 per cent do not think so.

A relative majority – 46.7 per cent do not believe that Malta can be considered a successful multicultural society in Europe, 35. 4 per cent think it can be and 17.9 per cent do not know.

60.6 per cent of students are not satisfied with the current public transport system with females being less satisfied than male.

The vast majority of students – 73.4 per cent do not believe that an €84 stipend was not enough. However, 51.8 per cent believe that in spite of the financial crisis, young people can be as ambitions as previous generations.