Divorce and Malta

15 05 2011

For all of you non-Maltese people, this is some background. In Malta there is no divorce legislation, so effectively you cannot get divorced there. Malta and the Philippines are the only 2 countries in the world where this is not possible (though legislation governing divorce varies greatly between countries). We are having a referendum in two weeks’ time and the debate has been hot.

I will not be travelling to Malta to vote in the referendum and not postal, online vote or voting in embassies is allowed. Hence I will not have a say in what happens. I have followed the ongoing debate from afar on the online newspapers, comments and some blogs. I am not too sure about the outcome, but I would say that the no vote will prevail. However the outcome of the referendum is not what I want to discuss, but rather the bad ways that the campaigns on both side of the spectrum have been conducted. If this were an election for government, I would seriously have doubts as to which side will get my vote, as there is no side giving me confidence with their campaign. This is because reasoned arguments are certainly NOT either side’s strong point.

The No Vote

The vote no to divorce campaign is largely a consequence of the Catholic upbringing of most Maltese individuals. The Church, rightly so, is not in favour of divorce. I would not expect the Church to be, as if it was supporting the Yes vote I would believe it to be hypocritical. According to the Catholic Church marriage is for life. A good thing the Church is doing (from what I can gather from afar) is that it is staying out of the limelight. Everybody knows its position, and getting married in Church is a one time thing you cannot do again after a divorce (except by annulment…but then I ask…a priest or nun can get ‘married to Christ’ and then decide it is not their vocation and ‘divorce Christ’ and then get married to someone else, but one cannot marry 2 people after each other, but Oh Well).

However numerous people have given their two cents worth as to the reason why divorce should not be introduced. One of the stupidest reasons I have seen, and what egged me on to write this blog post was published here. As the blogger who published the letter sent to her in full said, it leaves you speechless. So this lady doesn’t want to divorce, cos she is stupid and would have made the wrong choice. What if the wrong choice was the first marriage, and she is living with someone who abuses her? These people do not see further away than their bubble. You should go and read this letter. It is mind-boggling to see how her mind works and how she got from her extra marital shenanigans to being against divorce.

Other ‘reasons’ given are that one should say no to divorce, so that wife abusers cannot get married again…But the culture of separation and living together is very common in Malta. So wouldn’t he still be able to abuse another person. This time the other person is not the wife, but the partner. But not having divorce does not mean, that he will not abuse anyone else is it?

The Yes Vote

The yes vote has problems with the people fronting the campaign, as another blogger has stated. They are all seen as being people who would benefit from divorce. In addition they are getting into sensationalism for their billboards, which are putting a lot of people off. I would seriously not want to vote for these people because I do not like them, and do not want them to think that their ‘arguments’ have drawn me to their side. Rather, they just push me away.

I have seen a couple of the billboards in news articles, and I cannot understand the crassness they are getting into. I would have believed that the ‘Yes’ side would have rationality on their side, and reasoned arguments. But it is amazing how quickly they found the slippery slope down.

I would have been the first person who supports the no to divorce side, if by having no divorce, it would have meant no family breakdowns. But this is not what I see in Malta. Family breakdowns are still commonplace. People just go live with someone else, build a new family and are not married. However it feels nice to know that divorce is not available in your country, making the decision to marry something you have to think harder before taking it, rather than the flippant way marriage is sometimes looked at by people in other countries.

In just about two weeks, we will know what the Maltese people think. However I am overall not even sure whether this referendum is even required (which is one of the reasons why I would not bother coming to Malta to vote, especially since I will be back the week after). The referendum is non-binding. The bill would need to go through parliament, and a number of politicians (would be good to know how many) have said that they will vote for or against divorce legislation in parliament based on their conscience/thoughts, and will not consider the referendum as anything more but an indication of what Maltese people think. So why didn’t they just carry out a poll? Rather than going through all this hassle and expense of a referendum?

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