Updated 5.30pm with PD statement
Former Nationalist Party minister Tonio Fenech has launched a scathing critique of the party's decision to back a marriage equality bill, saying "if the PN does not want our vote it keeps [sic] heading in this direction."
Mr Fenech, who did not stand for re-election and announced he was quitting politics last month, nevertheless returned to the political fray by slamming the PN decision as a "lose-lose" one.
In a Facebook post published on his public Facebook page, the former minister was scathing in his criticism of current party leader Simon Busuttil, who has insisted the party will follow through on its electoral pledge and vote in favour of the introduction of gay marriage.
"All the PN is doing is risking losing the votes of people who believed the PN stood for something and today are convinced otherwise," Mr Fenech wrote, as he argued that the party was not bound by a manifesto which "did not find electoral support."
Mr Fenech, a conservative who had already courted controversy during the divorce referendum debate when he suggested the Virgin Mary would be "crying" about the matter, insisted the PN had been right to abstain from voting on civil unions.
"Will anyone stand up and call a spade a spade? I hope that there will be courageous MPs from both sides of the House who will stand up to be counted. Democracy should represent the voice of society and not just the few that have hijacked both political parties," Mr Fenech wrote.
Rumblings of dissent
The Sunday Times of Malta yesterday reported that a number of disgruntled PN MPs want a free vote on the matter and were unhappy with the party forcing a bloc vote on the issue.
Although sitting PN MPs so far declined to make their grievances public, a number of the party's former deputies have no such qualms.
Joining Mr Fenech is criticising the PN's stance in favour of marriage equality is former PN treasurer Antoine Borg, who was pipped to a seventh district parliamentary seat by the Democratic Party's Godfrey Farrugia.
Mr Borg shared The Sunday Times of Malta article, writing "party discipline should not come at the expense of one's conscience" while arguing in favour of MPs being given a free vote.
Doctor and former PN MP Michael Asciak has also argued in favour of a free vote on Facebook, adding that the party had not "allowed ethical space for discussion" about the issue.
Dr Asciak went even further in an article penned for The Malta Independent on Sunday, writing that for MPs to vote in favour to avoid upsetting the party applecart "smacks of political conformity that is idiotic, far from democratic and more akin to the democracy of North Korea."
However, a number of Nationalist MPs, resorted to social media to lend their support for the new law.
In a tweet, Claudette Buttigieg said the PN had promised to support gay marriage in its manifesto.
Meanwhile, Karl Gouder, an openly-gay MP wrote on Facebook: "I am proud to form part of a party which has moved on with the times and truly values that everyone under the sun is, and should be, treated equally."
Partit Demokratiku also said that its elected MPs, Marlene Farrugia and Godfrey Farrugia will be unequivocally voting in favour of proposed amendments to the Civil Marriage Act of 1975.
In a statement it said: "Equality and diversity should not just be approved in legislation, but ingrained in our social fabric. In doing so, Maltese society needs to understand whether it is a culture that is truly open enough to welcome such a change, and if not, what it can do to change it?"
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