VALLETTA, April 15, 2014 ( – In a vote of 37 to 0, the Parliament of Malta yesterday passed a measure to allow same-sex partners to contract legal civil unions, with similar rights and responsibilities to natural marriage. Despite strong public opposition to the idea, the bill also allows same-sex civil partners to adopt children. The entire caucus of the opposition Nationalist Party of 30 MPs abstained from the vote.

Maltese President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who took office April 4, had pledged to sign the bill. Her predecessor, President George Abela, had refused to sign a civil unions bill just last month.

The provision allowing same-sex adoption was particularly controversial. Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil quoted a recent survey that showed 80 per cent of Maltese citizens oppose “gay adoption.” “Malta has not been prepared for such a step,” he said.


But Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, leader of the Labour Party, said, “Malta is now more liberal and more European, and it has given equality to all its people.”

The bill, spearheaded by the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) with the financial backing of the European Union, ILGA Europe, and the World Bank, was opposed by the Catholic bishops. Bishop Charles Scicluna said that although the proposal had some “good points,” it was not in the best interests of children.

Scicluna told the Malta Independent the day before the vote that the law “puts civil unions on a par with marriage without recognizing the intrinsic and deep-seated distinction between the two types of relationships and their distinctive social roles.”

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The idea of same-sex adoption, he said, “does not reflect the order established by God in creation and may expose the children eventually entrusted to such adoptive parents to adverse effects.”

“This goes against the principle that the best interests of the child should be the paramount concern in legislation. It is hoped that this principle will remain paramount whenever the new law is applied.”

In January, Bishop Scicluna, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Malta, had told the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire, “To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.”

ILGA Europe issued a statement saying the bill allows same-sex partners “almost all the same rights and protections as married heterosexual couples.” MGRM welcomed the vote, saying they have been working towards recognition of same-sex unions for 13 years.

According to a columnist at Malta Today, the media was instrumental in bringing in the new law. “Opinionists and journalists from media outlets such as Malta Today played an important role in articulating discourse along the lines of MGRM,” wrote Michael Briguglio.

Listing a number of far-left organizations and political parties, Briguglio wrote, “An informal, fluid and broad alliance – a chain of equivalence – was formed around the demand for equality.”

The Labour Party, he said, chose to follow MGRM’s lead at the 2013 elections, and “the calls for equality became legitimised across mainstream society. A hegemonic formation was formed.”

Although homosexual activists claim that their movement comes from the “grassroots,” like all homosexualist activist groups, MGRM is heavily connected to the UN, European Union and other internationalist bodies. Key members of MGRM sit on the ILGA Europe board and the group lists ILGA as funders as well as the Sigrid Rausing Trust, International Planned Parenthood Federation, the World Bank’s Civil Society Fund, the European Social Fund and Youth in Action of the European Union. MGRM’s legal advisor, Dr. Neil Falzon, served as the head of the Malta office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The EU has been pressuring Malta since it joined in 2004 to accept same-sex unions. In 2006, the European Parliament in Brussels passed a resolution saying that the right of freedom of movement within the EU meant that national governments had to recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted in other countries where the practice is legal. Although the motion was only ratified by five of the EU’s member states, the European justice commissioner of the time, Franco Frattini, warned national governments that the law was “immediately applicable”– whether ratified or not.