Need for definition of family

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from Times of Malta:

President George Abela has called for legislation to be updated to include a clear definition of marriage and what constitutes a family.

In a strongly-worded speech, Dr Abela yesterday emphasised the importance of safeguarding the traditional and "natural" family unit, between a man and woman.

Speaking during a national conference on the family organised by the Social Policy Ministry, the President said the fundamental idea of a family in all cultures was that a child needed a mother and a father - marriage and family had to be supported - not undermined and weakened.

Dr Abela pointed out that Maltese law does not have an explicit definition of marriage. "Is this lacuna there for a wide interpretation of 'marriage' to include, in future, unions other than those between a man and a woman, or because its definition is so obvious?"

The law might allow different unions other than those between a man and a woman, but could this marriage create a family? Could same-sex unions be called a family, Dr Abela asked.

Would adoptions by same-sex couples offer the same model of a natural family or would the adopted child become psychologically and socially disorientated, he queried.

Family expert Angela Abela, from the National Family Commission, called for action because society was changing and more people were becoming in favour of divorce, abortion and cohabitation.

With more than 5,000 separated Maltese in a stable relationship, she said it was a chance to create a stable relationship.

"We should not have a polarised discussion for or against divorce. Its biggest advantage is giving people a second chance to marry, while its biggest disadvantage is that people might not believe in a solid marriage anymore," she said.

Around 57 per cent of single women said divorce should be introduced, she said.

In the past five years, the number of children born outside marriage had shot up to one out of every four babies, she said. Of these, 24 per cent were born to teenage mothers, and one-in-three to a mother aged between 20 and 24.

She said this phenomenon could have been prevented: "There are things that can be done now, such as publishing the national sexual health strategy."

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