Maltese Parliament Votes for Same-Sex Marriage
Malta’s parliament has voted to redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, three years after passing a law permitting civil partnerships in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Lawmakers gave near-unanimous approval to the bill in a country which legalised divorce only in 2011 and where abortion is outlawed.
Malta, the EU’s smallest nation with a population of just 430,000, becomes the bloc's 15th member to legislate for same-sex marriage.
The vote was one of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s first actions following his election victory last month.
The Catholic Church was solidly opposed to the bill but gay rights activists on Wednesday hailed the result, rallying outside the premier’s office in the capital Valetta. The facade of the building was lit in rainbow colours and the slogan: “We’ve made history”.
All but one lawmaker supported the new law, which will now also open the door for same-sex couples to adopt children.
A major bone of contention ahead of the vote was a change in legal jargon to replace terms such as husband, wife, mother and father with more gender-neutral phrasing such as “partner” or “parent”.
On Tuesday evening, opponents of the measure held a silent vigil outside parliament.
Since same-sex civil unions were approved in 2014, 141 couples have taken advantage of the partnerships, while 22 others who had entered into same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions had registered their unions.
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001.
The Daily Telegraph. July 13.