Sociologist, local councillor, activist, drummer from Malta

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cohabitation and Social Inclusion

Michael Briguglio, PRO, Zminijietna - Voice of the Left, Valletta.

The Sunday Times 16 December 2007

Mark Anthony Falzon 'Marrying me softly with her love', The Sunday Times, December 9) made reference to the position of Zminijietna - Voice of the Left on cohabition, yet this was not presented holistically. While I do not doubt Dr Falzon's good faith, for the sake of clarity I would like to highlight our position.

It is true that Zminijietna welcomes the inclusion of cohabiting partners as eligible to apply for social housing. Yet we also emphasise that for this to actually make sense, a legal framework should be instituted, since cohabitation is not recognised by Maltese law, thus resulting in legal limbo.

As in other societies, there are various forms of cohabitation in Malta, for various situational or cultural reasons. Yet, unlike other societies, many cohabiting couples are in this situation because divorce is not legal. Many would like to marry yet are not permitted to do so if at least one of them has already been married. Thus, ironically, while many separated people believe in marriage, they are denied the right to remarry.

This situation is creating various anomalies and hardships. This is evident in areas such as property, taxation and maintenance. This has also been recognised by Dr Falzon himself, when he refers to "cohabiting couples who cannot marry because they are locked in indissoluble marriages to previous partners".

Dr Falzon also mentioned the need to regularise the position of same-sex partners in cohabitation. Zminijietna agrees.

Indeed, we believe that cohabitation should be regularised by law for people living in the same household provided that they satisfy certain conditions to show that the couple are indeed in a long-term relationship, and that they have obligations besides rights.

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