Malta Today Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Should a separated person, whose marriage failed with no possibility of reconciliation, be given the right to remarry or should it be denied?
The ‘No to divorce’ camp wants to deny separated persons the right to remarry on the premise that they know what is best for others. In the meantime, people in Malta go on with their lives.
Separations are on the increase. There are various reasons for this. This includes stress, negative experiences and various situations which people encounter. Other reasons have to do with increased individualisation in contemporary societies. In this regard, people are giving more value to the importance of being happy in a relationship.
Many separated persons would like to remarry. In other societies, many do, as divorce legislation permits them to do so. Thus, divorce is a right which enhances family stability, as it gives the facility to couples to regularise their relationships once their previous marriage would have irreconcilably failed.
An inclusive social policy should be sensitive to the emotional, legal and financial stress that many people are facing because of the lack of divorce within Malta’s shores.
In the absence of legislation which permits divorce in Malta, the State is excluding thousands of citizens from a civil right which is universally recognized around the world, and which the same Maltese State recognizes as long as it is granted in any other country in the world.
The ‘No’ camp argues that the majority of marriages in Malta succeed, and therefore one should not legislate for a minority of persons whose marriage failed. This argument is insensitive to the reality of such persons. It is also self-defeating because people are still separating and forming new relationships, even if there is no divorce legislation. No self-appointed guardian of morality can stop people from making their individual choices. Perhaps the ‘No to divorce’ camp want to abolish separation, cohabitation and the use of condoms too?
The ‘majoritarian’ argument is also potentially dangerous, as it seems to assume that minorities should not have rights. Is the ‘No’ camp saying that minorities such as persons with disability, persons with an LGBT identity, and others should simply be excluded as they do not have a ‘majoritarian’ identity?
I believe that separated persons have the right to remarry, because such persons should not be denied a right which is available all around the world.
Such persons should have the right to remarry because individuals should be respected for their choices, and not be seen as mere pawns of outdated ideology.
In short, separated persons should be given a second chance.
I shall therefore vote ‘Yes’ in the divorce referendum. Those want to deny the basic right of divorce to others should not be allowed to win.
Michael Briguglio, a sociologist, is Chairperson of Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party