Malta’s Nationalist Party, which holds a political majority in the country, has expressed a desire for some form of legal recognition for gay couples.

Currently, the state does not recognise relationships between two people of the same gender.

The central Mediterranean group of islands which makes up the country has a strong Catholic ethos, only legalising divorce by referendum this summer.

The Times of Malta reports that at the opening of the General Council, the party’s General Secretary said the country could not be “blind” to gay relationships.

Paul Borg Olivier described it as a “renewed political vision”.

Malta’s non-recognition of gay relationships meant it was struck with a political anomaly earlier this year when it failed to introduce an EU directive properly and had to remove part of a piece of legislation.

The effect was that a gay couple made up of a non-European and a European living in a country other than Malta has more legal right to live in Malta than a gay couple made up of a non-European and a Maltese national.

The Nationalist Party joins the minority Labour Party, who had already expressed a desire for some recognition of gay relationships.

Earlier this year, a transgender Maltese man who was born female and underwent surgery abroad, was allowed to update his official birth records to reflect the change.

A 2009 study found 49% of the students at the archipelago’s University supported gay marriage, compared with a national study three years earlier that put the number at 18% for the general populace.

Malta has a population of around 417,000.