Malta to Propose Marriage Equality Law (The Edge – Boston Mass)

Malta to Propose Marriage Equality Law
by Jason St. Amand
Web Producer / Staff Writer
Wednesday Mar 28, 2012

Malta’s government recently announced that it will propose a law that supports civil partnerships for same-sex couples, Malta Today reported. The tiny and ultra-Catholic country sits in the Mediterranean Sea just 50 miles south of Sicily.

The country’s justice minister, Chris Said, told the newspaper, “The bill on co-habitation will be discussed in Cabinet and within the Parliamentary Group shortly. It will be presented to Parliament soon after. The government’s position is that the relationship between gay couples should be regulated by the law regulating cohabitation, including the institute of civil partnerships.”

In the past, the Maltese government has not been clear where it stands with marriage equality but this decision might pave the way for an intense fight for the liberal vote between the country’s political parties.

Currently, Malta does not recognize gay marriage or any kind of legal partnership. Gays and lesbians, however, are allowed to openly serve in the military and transgender people can legally change their gender on official documents. Additionally, Malta has a ban on anti-gay discrimination in employment and the country’s gay rights movement is urging the government to add sexual orientation to the country’s discrimination laws for the provisions of goods and services and other areas.

In 2006 a poll asked Maltese citizens if they support same-sex marriage. The results were dismal as only 18 percent said they back marriage equality. But a poll shows that the country’s youth may be more accepting of the LGBT community. A 2007 poll found that 54 percent of Maltese under 34-years-old supported gay marriage while 82 percent of people over the age of 55 were against it. Another poll from 2009 asked university students how they felt about gay marriage. Forty-nine percent supported it, 35 percent opposed and 16 percent were undecided.