Recognition of same-sex unions in Malta
|Legal recognition of
*Not yet in effect
Malta allows civil unions, following the enactment of the Civil Unions Bill, first introduced in September 2013. It grants civil unions the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as marriage, including the right of joint adoption. Parliament gave final approval to the legislation on 14 April 2014 by a vote of 37 in favour and 30 abstentions. President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca signed it into law on 16 April. The first civil union was performed on 13 June 2014.
Political party viewpoints
Before the 2008 elections, the Malta Gay Rights Movement sent a survey to all major political parties asking them for their views on the recognition of same-sex unions. None of the parties supported same-sex marriage. However, all of them supported recognition of same-sex unions to some extent. The governing Nationalist Party supported extending some rights to cohabitating same-sex couples. The Labour Party supported recognising "same-sex families and partnerships", although it was unknown whether this would be in the form of unregistered cohabitation or registered partnership. National Action supported civil partnerships that would grant to same sex-couples some of the rights extended to married couples, not including welfare benefits. Democratic Alternative/Greens supported civil partnerships providing all of the rights of marriage.
Regulation of Cohabitation Bill
On 28 March 2010, then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced that the government was working on a bill to regulate cohabitation. He said it was hoped the bill would be completed by the end of the year. On 11 July, Gonzi confirmed that the bill would be presented in parliament by the end of 2010. The draft bill was presented by the Minister of Justice on 28 August 2012 and is under consultation process until 30 September. The bill was introduced, but died in December 2012 due fall of the government and expected dissolution of the parliament.
Civil Unions Act, 2014
Following the 2013 elections, the new Labour government announced its intention to introduce legislation to allow for civil unions for same-sex couples. Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, said that legalising same-sex marriage would require a referendum, and that the government did not intend to put the issue to a popular vote.
On 30 September 2013, the first day of the new legislative session, the Parliament of Malta held its first reading of the Civil Unions Bill, which was published on 14 October 2013. The legislation establishes civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples with the same rights as those available to married couples, including joint adoption rights. Despite the fact that Malta's gays and lesbians were already able to adopt as individuals, opponents made adoption rights the focus of their objections to the legislation. In his 2013 Christmas sermon, Roman Catholic Bishop Charles J. Scicluna condemned adoption by same-sex couples and said Pope Francis had told him to take a public stand against it. On 25 February 2014, the bill passed committee stage. The third reading was postponed because President George Abela indicated he would not sign it. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who indicated she would sign it, became President on 4 April. The bill was approved in the third reading on 14 April on a 37 to 0 vote, with all Labour Party members in favor and all members of the opposition Nationalist Party abstaining. President Preca signed it into law on 16 April. The first civil union was performed on 13 June 2014. On 20 June 2014, the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security published a regulations, based on which, the country recognises same-sex unions performed abroad, regarded by the Ministry as having equivalent status to Malta's civil unions.
However, support among young people appears to be much higher. An October 2009 poll showed that 49% of university students supported same-sex marriage, while 35% were opposed and 16% were undecided. A poll conducted in October 2011 found that 56.5% of university students supported same-sex marriage.
On June 2012, a poll commissioned by Malta Today news website found support for same-sex marriage at a record high, with 60% of people aged 18–35 supporting same-sex marriage. The poll found a generational gap, with only 23% of people older than 55 supporting the change. Overall, the poll found that 41% of the population was in favor of same-sex marriage and that 52% was against it, a big change in comparison to 2006, when only 18% of the population supported it.
A November 2013 survey showed that 69.9% supported the legislation of civil unions. However, at the same time, only 24.7% supported same-sex couples to adopt.
- Political Front - Malta Gay Rights Movement
- Government drafting law on cohabitation
- Cohabitation law in the works - PM
- Feedback sought on cohabitation Bill
- New cohabitation law to be presented in Parliament by end of year
- Cohabitation bill to be moved by end of year - PM
- Cohabitation bill recognises same-sex couples but not families, JPO to propose amendments
- Cohabitation Bill launched: Gay couples ‘are not a family’ – Chris Said
- Cohabitation among 15 Bills put on hold
- Bill on same-sex civil unions by summer, Times of Malta
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- Bill No. 20 - Civil Unions Bill
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- Calleja, Gabi (16 October 2012). "Of gays and adoption". Malta Star. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
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- Gander, Kashmira (30 December 2013). "Pope Francis 'shocked' by gay adoption says Bishop of Malta". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 16 April 2014.
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- "Same sex unions become legal - Celebrations in Valletta; Opposition abstains because of adoptions". The Times of Malta. 14 April 2014.
- Camilleri, Neil (17 April 2014). "President signs 'gay marriage' Bill". Malta Independent. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
- "First civil union registered on Friday". Malta Independent. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- (Maltese) "L-ewwel unjoni ċivili se ssir f’Għawdex". iNews Malta. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- (Maltese) "Se jibdew jiġu rrikonoxxuti unjonijiet ċivili barranin". iNews Malta. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage
- Half of University students agree with gay marriage - survey
- Survey shows majority of University students back same-sex marriage
- "Heartening change in attitudes to put gay unions on political agenda". Malta Today. 5 June 2012.
- MaltaToday survey | Majority favour ‘civil unions’ but not gay adoption
- AN ACT to regulate civil unions and to provide for matters connected therewith or ancillary thereto
- Unions of Equivalent Status to Civil Unions Regulations, 2014