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(Friday, April 1, 2011)
Why I will vote yes for divorce
Author: Angele Deguara
As a member of a society which claims to be a modern, secular, pluralistic and democratic EU member state, I find it
difficult to reconcile the fact that in the 21st century, the divorce issue is still being hotly debated and that many
arguments against divorce are still very much grounded in religious rhetoric and make use of scaremongering tactics.
It is unfortunate that we had to resort to a referendum to decide whether or not divorce legislation should be
introduced in Malta since apart from Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green Party, none of the other two parties ever
had the gall to put it on their electoral agendas for obvious reasons and certainly not for the reasons they quote, such
as that of being against the common good or because our families are still strong. In a society which truly makes a
distinction between Church and state, divorce legislation would simply be introduced by Parliament as a civil minority
I will vote yes in the referendum because divorce is a civil right which is being denied to thousands of people who are
not in a position to obtain it from abroad. Malta is the only country in the world where divorce is not granted by the
courts but where divorce obtained from many other countries is recognised by the state.
Therefore, some form of divorce legislation already exists in Malta but it is a law which discriminates against most of
I will vote yes because I have no right to stop those who would like a second chance at a happy marriage from having
this option. I will vote yes because divorce is optional. Those couples who do not believe in divorce even if their
marriage has failed may choose to stay married. I will vote yes because many people would like to end a marriage riddled
with conflict, trauma and heartache. I will vote yes because my definition of the so-called “common good” is
different from that of those with a parochial and confessional mentality.
Arriving at an objective definition of the “common good” is not easy. For me in this situation it means respecting
the rights of all persons including minorities and giving people the space to make responsible choices about how they
want to live their life. It is certainly not in the “common good” for the majority to take the moral high ground and
impose its morality on everyone.
I will vote yes because adults have a right to make their own decisions about whether they want to stay single, to
remarry or to cohabit with their new partner once their previous marriage has irrevocably failed.
I will vote yes because many of the arguments against the introduction of divorce do not convince me at all. I am not
convinced by the argument that divorce will lead to marital breakdown since it usually happens the other way round. Many
marriages are sadly already beyond repair and the absence of divorce legislation will not remedy that.
I am not convinced by the argument that divorce legislation will reduce commitment in marriage just because divorce is
available. If I am committed to non-violence, I will not buy a fire arm just because I can buy it. Nor will I spend my
days thinking about whether or not I should buy a fire arm. I also do not consider separated people to be still married.
Marriage is a relationship based on love and respect and when these are absent, there is no marriage except in name.
There is only a marriage certificate. Divorce legislation will only put a stamp on this reality.
Neither will lack of divorce ensure that children are not hurt when their parents do not love each other anymore.
Children will always get hurt when their parents’ relationship is over, regardless of whether they separate, divorce,
get an annulment or even continue to live together in an empty shell marriage. Furthermore the effects on children do
not stop the Church from granting annulments or the state from granting separations. At least divorce legislation will
facilitate the marriage of those who are forced to cohabit and to have children out of wedlock. As it is, one-fourth of
children in Malta are born outside a marriage context.
Moreover, voting against divorce will not stop violent persons from abusing others as it has been suggested. Violent
persons will abuse their partners regardless of whether they are married to them or not.
I simply cannot understand why so many people are obsessed with dictating how others should live their life when I am
sure they would not like others to tell them how to live theirs. But then these people tend to believe that theirs is
the only truth and that their conscience is inspired by God’s words and that gives them the right to pontificate to
others. It is also unacceptable in a modern, supposedly democratic EU member state for some of our representatives in
Parliament to claim that they will ignore the will of the people and will vote according to their conscience regardless
of the referendum result. But then it’s not always easy to distinguish our parliamentarians from the mullahs of Iran
or our presidents from our bishops.
The author is spokesman for social development of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party.
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