Malta Allows Same-Sex Couples to Marry
Malta's parliament voted on Wednesday to allow same-sex couples to marry, three years after passing a law permitting civil partnerships in the overwhelmingly Catholic country, reported the Telegraph.uk.co
Lawmakers gave near-unanimous approval to the bill, which represents a major step for LGBT rights on the island, which legalised divorce only in 2011 and where abortion is outlawed.
Malta, the EU's smallest nation, becomes the bloc's 15th member to legalise same-sex unions.
The vote was one of prime minister Joseph Muscat's first actions following his election victory last month.
"It's a historic vote. This shows that our democracy and society have reached a level of maturity and we can now say that we are all equal," he said after the text was passed.
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 downtown 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 open the door for same-sex couples to adopt. Previously this was possible only if one person applied rather than as a couple.
Though Malta scores relatively well in European-wide freedom indexes, society in the tiny Mediterranean island is still influenced by religion.
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, but Wednesday's vote was hailed by many commenters on social media.
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