Cohabitation is a state of fact, a choice made by several couples and a social reality, and the government is therefore obliged to regulate it by law. Previously cohabitation for gay couples in Malta was not regulated at all but with the proposed change of the cohabitation bill on the 28th of august 2012 it would be regulated.
The Bill will give rights to gay couples, but it will be far from recognition of gay partnerships. The Bill is expected to provide for registration of gay couples who may register their partnership before a notary. In that case the partnership would start from the date of that Civil Cohabitation Partnership agreement. In such a contract the partners would list their obligations and responsibilities to each other. As a consequence, a gay partner from a non-EU country could enjoy work and residence rights in Malta. In recognising same-sex partnerships, cohabitation for gay couples is the first act that gives gay couples a standard form of recognition in terms of rights and obligations. However, registration of gay partnerships would not mean recognition of a gay relationship on the same level of a family. Gay people cohabiting have the same conditions as male and female cohabiting couples which means neither of them is entitled to maintenance or inheritance.
Despite the drafting of the cohabitation bill the Malta Gay Rights Movement[MGRM] described the Act as hugely disappointing. According to the MGRM it fails to attain even the minimal level of recognition acceptable, that is civil unions being equivalent to marriage. The Malta Gay Rights Movement believes such a Bill continues to suggest that same-sex couples and their families are inferior by preventing access to equal rights and creating a separate form of recognition that is by far inferior to marriage. It also serves to justify the homophobia that is existing among a few Maltese people who do not seem to accept gay cohabitation as equal to marriage.
So far this bill is still a proposal and the parliamentary decision making process has still to be concluded. In which way this proposed bill will regulate cohabitation for gay couples once it will becomes a law will be published on the website of Sultana Legal in due course.