Saturday, 31 March 2012

Times: Gay partnerships
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 by Amadeo Mifsud, Sannat

I was shocked to read in Martin Sciluna’s contribution (March 17) that the cohabitation law has been kept on the back burner for almost 14 years. Once a right has been identified, Parliament should be quick to etch it into the statute book.

Mr Sciluna’s list of “main features” was very clear and should not be too difficult for the legislator to address, although I cannot understand how “the rights of homosexual partnerships”, as he called them, would be safeguarded by requiring “the same-sex couple (to) go through a recognisable public ceremony”. Indeed, I cannot understand how anyone could claim a right to a “public ceremony” in the first place!
While this irrelevant ceremonial aspect made it into Mr Scicluna’s list, another much more important aspect – I dare say, a fundamental one – was omitted, as is so often the case when this issue is raised. I will illustrate it by an example from the history of rights for black people in the US.

In 1868 the US Congress had passed the 14th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Among other things it stated that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States (…) nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. This meant, or should have meant, that under federal law blacks would be treated like whites. Yet, almost a century later blacks were still treated as second class citizens in many states. In 1955 a young black woman going by the name of Rosa Parks boarded a bus for home in Montgomery, Alabama and as the bus became crowded she was ordered to give up her seat to a white passenger. Because she remained seated she was arrested.
This is how ineffective laws can be sometimes and I humbly suggest keeping this in mind when speaking about gay rights.

Enacting laws that permit gay people to conduct lives that do not make their sexual orientation seem like a burden is commendable indeed but perhaps we should not forget that neither laws nor public ceremonies will change attitudes. To do that takes a different kind of commitment. It takes education.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Repubblica: Uruguayano sposato con italiano ottiene permesso di soggiorno


Il documento emesso dopo che il tribunale ha accolto il ricorso della coppia gay, sposatasi in Spagna, assistita dall'associazione radicale Certi diritti. Non è riconosciuto il matrimonio, ma il diritto ad avere una vita familiare in Italia, richiamandosi a precedenti pronunce della Cassazione e della Corte costituzionale: e' la prima volta 

REGGIO EMILIA - Un giovane uruguayano sposato con un cittadino italiano ha ottenuto un permesso di soggiorno nel nostro Paese dopo aver presentato un ricorso al tribunale di Reggio Emilia, che lo ha accolto: una sentenza importante, perché è la prima che in Italia viene rilasciato un documento ufficiale che dà efficacia al riconoscimento dello status famigliare delle coppie omosessuali, rileva l'associazione radicale "Certi Diritti1", che ha sostenuto il ricorso della coppia gay.

Il permesso di soggiorno è stato rilasciato dalla questura di Reggio Emilia che in un primo momento aveva respinto la richiesta del giovane, di nome Rafael, che ha sposato in Spagna un cittadino italiano, poiché in Italia il loro matrimonio non è riconosciuto. Nel ricorso presentato successivamente, pur non richiedendo la trascrizione del matrimonio, materia che con il diritto di famiglia viene lasciata alla competenza esclusiva di ogni stato membro dell'Uunione europea, si chiedeva l'applicazione delle norme che regolamentano la libera circolazione dei cittadini europei e dei loro famigliari. Queste normative europee, ratificate dall'Italia, devono essere applicate anche nel nostro Paese.

Nel ricorso, presentato dall'avvocato Giulia Perin e concordato con il Direttivo di Certi Diritti, non si è chiesto quindi il riconoscimento del matrimonio spagnolo ma il diritto per i coniugi, sebbene non riconosciuti, ad avere una vita famigliare in Italia, tesi accolta dal
Giudice Tanasi, con una sentenza 2giunta il 13 febbraio 2012.

Il tribunale ha quindi accolto il ricorso ai sensi del d. Lgs. 30/2007, legge che dà attuazione alla direttiva 2004/38/ce, sul riconoscimento del diritto di soggiorno ai familiari (anche stranieri) dei cittadini dell'Unione europea. Nel ricorso si era fatto riferimento alla  sentenza n. 1328/2011 della corte di Cassazione che afferma: a) la nozione di "coniuge" prevista dall'art. 2 D.Lgs. N. 30/2007 deve essere determinata alla luce dell'ordinamento straniero in cui il vincolo matrimoniale è stato contratto e che b) lo straniero che abbia contratto in Spagna un matrimonio con un cittadino dell'Unione dello stesso sesso deve essere qualificato quale "familiare", ai fini del diritto al soggiorno in Italia.

La sentenza si è richiamata alla sentenza della corte costituzionale n. 138 del 2010 che afferma, tra l'altro, che all'unione omosessuale, "intesa come stabile convivenza tra due persone dello stesso sesso", spetta "il diritto fondamentale di vivere liberamente una condizione di coppia" e che il "diritto all'unità della famiglia che si esprime nella garanzia della convivenza del nucleo familiare costituisce espressione di un diritto fondamentale della persona umana".

Per Anna Paola Concia, la sentenza del tribunale di Reggio Emilia manda un segnale chiaro alla politica.  E' ormai evidente che la magistratura italiana è chiamata, suo malgrado, a riempire un vuoto normativo", dice la deputata del Pd "che ormai risulta inaccettabile per un Paese che vuole stare dentro l'Europa. Le coppie omosessuali hanno dei diritti che devono essere garantiti e tutelati. Adesso è il tempo del Parlamento italiano, che ha il dovere di fare una buona legge, non più rinviabile, ristabilendo così l'equilibrio; in una democrazia il Parlamento fa le leggi e i giudici le applicano".

"Il ricongiungimento familiare e la libera circolazione delle persone sono pilastri fondamentali del processo di integrazione europea - conclude Concia - e il governo Monti deve dar prova di credere fino in fondo nell'Europa, perché non si può essere europeisti sui temi dell'agenda economica e non esserlo quando si parla di leggi di civiltà".

(26 marzo 2012)

Independent: One form of marriage
25 March 2012 by Michael Asciak

The suggestion by an MP to change the form of marriage to one where there is no longer a male and female component is a serious suggestion about which I already wrote in your paper two weeks ago on 11 March. However, I wish to add some other thoughts I did not pen at the time. The suggestion is serious because it goes against the very fundamentals of reason. This is that a man and a woman come together to form a family and produce offspring. This is what nature teaches us and from the study of nature we are able to use our reason to come to rational conclusions. This is called natural law. The main operative of natural law is in fact not the law of nature as such, but reason itself. This is ably expounded by 2,500 years of Western civilization. Nature can help us use our reason in finding an objective truth. Throwing away objective reason is throwing away everything that Socrates, Plato and Aristotle among others, stood for. However, one cannot stop with natural law itself, as Kant, a child of the enlightenment, also has something to add about reason, which strengthens what classical philosophy teaches in a rather categorical manner. The fact remains that if one were to dispose of reason one becomes very subjective and simply throws away 2,500 years of civilization!

I imagine that today we are living again in the times of the very subjective sophists who believed that there was more than one truth and that this truth changed with different cultures. They never looked at reason as an objective measure of truth until the objective philosophers turned up. Reason shows us that there is only one true form of marriage and if the state, any state, had to consider bringing in new forms of marriage, that is, changing the definition of marriage itself, then it is only fair that the objectivists among us should put up some form of resistance to this change of form. I find this issue of much more concern than other issues of the day, including adoption by same-sex couples, because multiple forms of marriage would undermine the very fabric on which society is built. I am in no way suggesting that homosexual relationships should not be otherwise registered by the state, but not under the form of marriage. Nor am I a homophobe, as I believe that all individuals should never be discriminated against for any way of life they choose to live. Neither am I saying that we are all not prone to learn valuable lessons from these types of relationships. However, this does not mean that tolerance and respect of other ways of life should reduce itself to destroying the basic building block of society which is the institution of marriage itself. A state can do this only at a great cost to itself and its citizens. I have always believed, as the late Censu Tabone always taught me, God bless his soul, that one man’s freedom stops where the freedom of another man (or woman) begins. Who is to protect the freedoms of those who wish to have a form of marriage based on objective reason, if not the state?

Recently, I discussed this issue with a colleague of mine. He in fact informed me that in many countries where the objective form of marriage has been done away with, so that it is now only a parody of its former self, a new movement is arising that asks the state to recognise the objective form of marriage as legally separate from the other marriage forms. This is already being done in some states. Under this new legal concept, individuals would have the right to ask the state to recognise their option for a form of marriage as being that between a genetic man and a genetic woman and this being of a permanent nature, which means foregoing the option of divorce antecedently. People would voluntarily choose this form of marriage over the others available in the state but are then legally obliged to deal with the consequences of their own personal choices. The name for this form of marriage is the so-called covenantal marriage. The Church may then opt to only accept Church marriages if the couple concerned choose the form of covenantal marriage offered by the state.

I am NOT saying that the Maltese state should do this, as long as it recognises one form of marriage alone. But if other forms of legal marriage were to become the order of the day, then I see no other way out but for the state to establish the legal option of Covenantal Marriage in order to safeguard the rights of those who look at marriage objectively.

Independent: Defending the traditional family!
25 March 2012 by Caroline Galea

I was born in London in the later years of the Swinging Sixties. The Beatles were the rage, women were seeking sexual independence and it was considered cool to hang out and smoke pot. I was also brought up in a stable Maltese Catholic family unit and trained to respect and appreciate the teachings of the Church and traditional family values.

Societies change and Malta has not been immune to this change. The dynamics of society are set to change again if one considers the recent claims for the introduction of same-sex marriages in Malta. As a defender and promoter of the traditional family unit, I feel I must also express my opinion on this subject.

For the sake of this article, I will refer to the act of marriage between man and woman as a traditional marriage. I start by making clear that I accept that same gender relationships exist and understand that these people also have rights and needs. I recognise that these people are valued members of our society, some even close friends of mine, and I would never dare discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation. It would be hypocritical of me to campaign for the rights of women and then pigeonhole or ostracise LGBTs. For me, this is no minority group issue since we are all entitled to the same dignity and rights and the freedom to fight for better respect and equality where this is lacking.

Promoters of same sex marriages claim that a huge stigma surrounds the introduction of this union and that marriage equality should be introduced since these couples are currently denied access to the protections, benefits and responsibilities extended to married couples in a traditional marriage. Same sex marriage was introduced in The Netherlands in 2001 followed by several more countries and is currently on the agenda for its introduction in a number of other countries. No sooner had the dust settled down here in Malta, following the introduction of divorce last year than the traditional family unit was once again under attack with calls for the introduction of same sex marriages in our country as well.

The situation beggars belief! In this fiercely Christian country where minds are still reeling from the Church-opposed introduction of divorce, we are suddenly and prematurely facing another attempt to undermine the traditional family unit. What is being proposed is contrary to natural law. Apart from going directly against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, I believe that same sex marriages are also a threat to the future of our society. This is not about granting rights to gays but about undermining the institution of traditional marriage. I am all for granting civil rights to same sex relationships but I strongly disagree with the introduction of same sex marriages. Marriage is a sacred union designed to enhance the physical and psychological being of the two partners in preparation for the raising of children. This traditional family unit has time and again proven to be the best environment to raise psychologically healthy and well-adjusted children. Of course some families run into problems and require extra help but this has nothing to do with the gender equilibrium of that particular unit. The challenge to protect the traditional family unit always lay with strengthening traditional family values. As a defender of the traditional family unit, I firmly believe that political leaders should show extreme caution and sensitivity when dealing with this issue. As a nation which believes that the family is the foundation of our society, legalising such marriages will confuse children about gender roles and the expectations of society.

Our society is nowhere near the perceived moral rot that societies of other countries in the Western world appear to be facing. It may be blighted by trends and pressures but supported by our strong Christian values we are still the forefront promoters of the traditional family unit. Let us not allow external pressures undermine the strength of the family unit we so much love, nurture and believe in. Our society has been open to many changes but this is one step forward that, unlike present perception, will not reflect the modernising of Maltese society but will result in potential decay of the family unit as we know it.

Malta Today: JPO has backing of Simon Busuttil on same-sex unions
25.3.2012 by Karl Stagno-Navarra

Nationalist Party MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando says he has the backing of the MEP Simon Busuttil on the cohabitation law which includes the right to same-sex unions.

PN backbencher Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando has revealed that he has the backing of the Prime Minister's special delegate Simon Busuttil on same-sex unions.

Speaking on television yesterday evening, the PN backbencher said he had a lengthy meeting with MEP Simon Busuttil who was recently appointed by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi as a special envoy to organise an out-reach campaign within the Nationalist Party's structures.

Pullicino Orlando also held a meeting with Justice minister Chris Said who is piloting the draft cohabitation law which also includes same-sex unions.

Read more in today's edition of Illum

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on Malta Today's website.]

Independent: Court: Ħamrun assault case put off
22 March 2012

A court case about a fight between a lesbian couple and two young men in Hamrun was put off for the fourth time yesterday when one of the accused, the mother of one of the young men, did not turn up in court after sending a message that she was indisposed.

The court has ordered that the woman would need to present a medical certificate at the next sitting, if she was not present.

Because of her absence doctors who appeared in court to testify were told by Magistrate Joseph Apap Bologna that their testimony could not be taken as one of the accused was not present in court.

The fight broke out on 13 January at about 7.30pm when the two young women were ridiculed by two men. One of the women was injured in the face. The mother facing charges, aged 35, had gone to help her son.

The case was put off to 11 April.

Times: Lesbian attack case is still in suspended animation
Thursday, March 22, 2012 by Waylon Johnston

The case involving an alleged attack on a teenage lesbian couple cannot seem to get off the ground after it was deferred for a fourth time yesterday because one of the accused failed to turn up.

The court case, which seems to be riddled with problems, has only seen one witness enter the arena so far before difficulties and procedural correctness took over.

The issue centres on two girls, aged 15 and 16, who alleged they were attacked by two brothers, aged 15 and 17, who called them names when they saw them kissing last January.

The boys were arraigned along with a 35-year-old woman who allegedly got involved in the fight despite not being connected to the boys. The girls too were taken to court, accused of slightly injuring the boys.

In the first sitting, held on February 17, the 15-year-old boy failed to turn up because he was not notified and the case was deferred after a medical doctor gave evidence.

In the second sitting, held on February 28, two medical doctors were meant to testify but missed the sitting. After the 35-year-old woman’s daughters refused to testify, as is their right, the case was deferred.

On March 7, a no-show by the same doctors meant the case had to be put off again.

And during the sitting yesterday, although the doctors did turn up, the 35-year-old accused was absent. To prevent proceedings from being declared null, which would have to be done if the doctors do not testify in the presence of the accused, Magistrate Joseph Apap Bologna put the case off to mid-April.

Lawyer Cedric Mifsud appeared for the teenage girls while lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha are appearing for the brothers and the woman.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Times: Lesbian attack case put off for the fourth time
The attack had been followed by a protest which led to harsher laws against hate crime being proposed.
The court case about an assault on a lesbian couple in January was postponed for the fourth time today because a 35-year-old woman who allegedly got involved in the fight failed to turn up in court.
Two doctors who failed to turn up for the last sitting were present today but did not testify.

Times: Shameful comments
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 , by Simon Walker, Għargħur

May I congratulate Kenneth Zammit Tabone for A Rose By Any Other Name (March 13). His comments are honest and written with conviction and I like to think that any sane reader would agree with this even if they disagree with his views.

May I also applaud Adrian Buckle for his letter (March 14), highlighting the horrendous comments made by a correspondent to the paper and here I think we come to an even more serious point. Some of the comments on The Times' website referring to Mr Zammit Tabona's article and indeed to the matter of gay partnerships in general have been disgraceful. Frankly some writers have expressed views which resemble Hitler's denunciation of the Jews in the 1930s. In the UK, people who maliciously spread hate are subject to the law and I am sure I am not alone when I say that the hatred we have seen expressed towards gay people in general relating to so-called "gay partnerships" is unacceptable in a civilised and secular society.

Minorities, whether it be a matter of colour, creed, sexual orientation or any other basis have a right, in a civilised society, to be protected and given equal rights. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when Martin Luther King was fighting for the rights of the black minority in the US. My parents fought against the tyranny of Nazi Germany and fascism in other parts of the world as did the people of Malta and the civilised world. People in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya have recently successfully fought to escape tyranny yet tragically, as I write, people in Syria are being slaughtered because of the intolerance of a few who wish to dominate the majority. Man's inhumanity to man is hard to rid.

As a practising Christian, I have tried hard to believe in the true values of my faith which include, among many things, tolerance, forgiveness, not judging others and trying to help those in need. Picking on minorities is not part of that faith and I think those who have written these shameful letters and blog comments, supposedly in the name of their faith, should think very carefully about their hateful, bigoted and unchristian comments.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Telegraph: Dutch government to investigate 'castration' of boys by Roman Catholic Church

The Dutch government has promised to investigate "very serious and shocking" allegations that hundreds of teenage boys and young men were castrated while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic Church as a treatment for homosexuality in the 1950s.

Dutch Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten
Dutch Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten Photo: EPA
Ivo Opstelten, the Dutch justice minister, told MPs that he would investigate the involvement of the police or the health authorities in alleged cases.
"We will get to the bottom of it to the extent the government is concerned," he said.
The investigation follows reports that young men under the age of 21 were surgically castrated "to get rid of homosexuality" while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic Church.
According to Dutch social historians at least 400 men were castrated in the post-war period up until 1968, over 40 per cent were classed homosexuals.
One Dutch psychiatrist with close links to the Catholic Church was known as the "the castrator of the Netherlands".
"It was nothing unusual," Marnix Koolhaas, a Dutch historian, told the Volkskrant newspaper.
One man has been identified as Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.
He had accused Catholic priests of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home. Two clergymen were convicted of abuse but Mr Heithuis was nonetheless transferred by police to a Catholic psychiatric hospital were he was castrated.
Evidence of the castration policy has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.
Khadija Arib, a Dutch Labour MP, who called for the new investigation, said: "We must find out how many cases there were."

Times: Cohabitation legislation
While I think that discussion is healthy, I take offence at a comment posted by a certain Edw. Ingo Formosa saying:
“The good news is:
“The US Centre for Disease Control has estimated that homosexual men account for 61 per cent of the new HIV infections in the United States while they only amount to about two per cent of the country’s population.”
This is pure homophobia.
In my opinion, it is a good thing that the government is recognising same-sex families.
After all, it is there to take care of the rights of everyone not just Catholics.
What I can’t understand is why Catholics (or a certain sector of them) hate humankind so much. What is it to them if homosexuals’ rights are acknowledged?
How does it affect their lives? Or is it that they just want to impose their warped vision of life on the rest of the country?

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Friday, 30 March 2012

Times: A disability called society
Sunday, March 11, 2012, by Fr Joe Borg

Disability is aggravated, if not caused, by society’s inability to accommodate people who do not conform to what society perceives to be the norm

• Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando (The Times, March 2, 2012) made an impassioned appeal for people to rise up in unison to throw away the chains that imprison them.

Marx would have been proud! We live in a country, the learned parliamentarian informed us, that “is still struggling to free itself from the shackles that bind the political class with the Catholic Church.” Oh my! Oh my! A clear example of this enslavement of the political class by Archbishop Paul Cremona and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is the fact that Malta, horror of horrors, has not legalised same-sex marriage.

But let us backtrack a bit to understand the implications of the ‘logic’ of Pullicino Orlando’s argument about the shackles that enslave our politicians and the misguided religious arguments (as these are the only arguments, says he) that can be brought against same-sex marriage.

Does the enlightened gentleman want us to believe that the only politicians that have shaken off the shackles of the Church are those legislators in only 10 countries and few states/regions who have legalised same-sex marriage? Are we to understand that the politicians of around 190 countries are still the willing slaves of ecclesiastics of their country?

Had Pullicino Orlando made a reasoned appeal for the granting of legal recognition to same-sex couples he would have been helping their cause. But his misguided and mistaken arguments for same-sex marriage do not in any way advance the cause of gay people. Rather he alienates those among them who are in favour of civil unions.

• “At the root of America’s economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite. A society of markets, laws and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty, and compassion towards the rest of society and toward the world... Without restoring an ethos of social responsibility, there can be no meaningful and sustained economic recovery.” Sachs, J. (2011) The Price of Civilisation. Economics and Ethics After the Fall.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Times: Solid reasons for Church positions
Sunday, March 11, 2012, by Fr Alfred Micallef, SJ

The fact that the majority judges an issue one way rather than another is no guarantee that the majority has judged correctly.

As was predicted by some, the divorce issue is being followed by the desire of acknowledging the right of homosexuals to marry. This issue needs a lot of thinking even though some countries are already legalising in this direction.
Something is not wrong simply because the Church says so
- Fr Alfred Micallef, SJ
The question of marriage between homosexuals should be resolved only after a deep reflection on, and an adequate understand-ing of the nature of homosexuality.
I would like to comment on a statement by the proponent of this legislation, namely, that “the only reason many are averse to the idea of gay marriage is simply a misguided one based on religious beliefs”.
This is not the first time such a statement has been made. There are quite a few people who feel we are being kept in the dark ages by the religious beliefs propounded by the Church, especially in Malta, and that we need to free ourselves of these shackles so as to live the fullness of our human rights and freedom.
Although it is difficult to guess what is in people’s minds, judging from the way they express themselves, it seems that they believe that the Church – or maybe a God they do not believe in – imposes laws and rules capriciously.
After all, it was God who ‘imposed’ the Com­mandments on Moses and the people, although Hammurabi, the king of Babylonia, seemed to have liked the idea and, in like manner, inscribed his code on stone tablets.
The idea that the Church decides what is good and what isn’t needs correcting. Even for believers, something is not wrong simply because the Church says so; they understand that the Church says something is wrong because, in the mind of the Church, it is not conducive to growth in love but, rather, the contrary.
The Church arrives at moral conclusions basing itself on natural law and does this in the light of the Gospel.
Natural law also sounds old-fashioned in some quarters. Yet, the very human rights which are so often exalted – and, alas, so often respected selectively – are built on natural law. Some use the term ‘logical’ but they mean the same thing.
The possibility that the Church’s understanding may not be totally correct exists, as it exists for everybody else. However, one thing is certain, the Church – or God, for that matter – is never whimsical in her moral teaching.
The alternative to this way of proceeding is to choose our laws democratically through an election or a referendum. We tend to forget that democracy as practised in the west is based on the principle that quality equals quantity.
However, the fact that the majority judges an issue one way rather than another is no guarantee that the majority has judged correctly.
The Church talks to all those who are willing to listen to what it has to say, independently of whether they are believers or not, although believers listen to the Church with a different attitude. People may be convinced but they are free not to. The Church does this everywhere and on various levels.
Those who a year ago followed the discussion on the legislation about the marriage of homosexuals in the state of New York would know what an active part the Church played in that discussion.
In the end, the people chose in a different way than that proposed by the Church, in the same way that in Malta, people decided not to follow the position of the Church on the issue of divorce. Whether they will be better off or not as a community remains to be seen.
Conscious of its political role, the Church should make it a point to explain its position in the most coherent, clear and rational manner possible. The Church should not expect people to follow it simply because ‘the Church says so’.
In a secular society people would follow the Church only if it gives solid reasons for its position.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times'  website.]

Times: What do students think about same-sex marriage?
Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just like opposite-sex marriages have legal coverage, so should same-sex marriages. I feel it is their right as human beings. I don’t feel gay marriages are going to affect the rest of us negatively.
Gay people are normal people just like you and me, and we all have the right to choose the lifestyle that is best for us and in which we feel most comfortable. From childhood, we are always told that the ‘right’ thing is having a man and a woman getting married, and we are not exposed to the reality of the gay community.
I think there is still a very strong stigma against being gay, and often we end up with people turning this stigma into plain hatred.
This leads to a breach of basic human rights for gays and lesbians, such as the right to get married.
Holy Matrimony and religion is a different issue. The Church has the right to stick to its principles, but legal marriages should be the basic acceptable option for same-sex unions.
We need to accept that same-gender relationships exist and gay people have rights and needs just like everyone else. Martina Cauchi, BA Engineering and Architecture, 3rd year.

It is important that there is full equality for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender individuals; this includes marriage, or an equal legally recognised substitute to marriage. Of course, for full equality to be achieved same-sex marriage should be legalised.
It is definitely not justifiable for anyone to impose their views on LGBT individuals; this would be like imposing my rights on someone of a different race, or nationality.
Civil marriage is what is sought by LGBT individuals, so that their partnership can be legally accepted. This does not mean a marriage in church is irrelevant. What LGBT individuals seek is for their partnerships to be recognised by law with all the benefits that come with it, including the right to start a family. Romina Tolu, B.Comm, 2nd year.

Same-sex unions will surely change the dynamism of society. The Church has taught me that a sacred marriage is between three people: a man, a woman, and God, and I thoroughly believe in heterosexual unions.
The major dilemma over legalising same-sex marriages is the possibility that this would un­der­mine the institution of marriage.
I can’t say that two people in a gay relationship love each other superficially because they couldhave the deepest relationship that can ever exist. Christians do not hate homosexuals; disagreeing with a particular lifestyle is not hate.
Homosexuals have the right to live the life they want to and cohabit with the person they love, because ultimately everyone is free. A democratic society entails these rights and freedom, obviously without disrupting the lives of others.
The Church retains the right to call heterosexual marriage a sacrament. However, the government is separate and independent from the Church and thus is under no obligation to follow the Church’s ideas. But sometimes the authorities have the right to impose on the life of others in certain circumstances, especially when the majority of people would be affected.
Society has always encouraged and supported heterosexual marriages. According to some people, this is just a case of the Church trying to impose its own rules and values.
In Genesis it is written that woman was created to be the partner for the man. They are no longer two, but one flesh. If the nation is under God then it should abide by God’s rules.
Gender stereotypes play another role in impeding society from accepting homosexual unions. Same-sex relationships are viewed as being unnatural and that they shouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, this stereotyping can have very negative effects, as seen on the local news recently.
I believe Maltese people still have to understand a lot of things before actually discussing this issue and that a line shouldn’t be drawn so quickly. It’s not a matter of homophobia; it’s a matter of what one believes in. Maria Azzopardi, B.Communications with Italian, 2nd year.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]