Same-sex civil unions were this evening approved in Malta, allowing gay couples to adopt.

Over a thousand people who had gathered in Palace Square outside Parliament cheered as the bill passed.

The Opposition abstained from the vote which saw 37 votes for, and 30 abstentions.

The leader of the Opposition, Simon Busuttil said his party was in favour of civil unions, but that it had reservations about adoption for same-sex couples.

Following the vote, Parliament was lit up in rainbow colours.

The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality last month issued a statement saying it is the human right of same-sex couples to adopt, in response to a revelation by the country’s Auxiliary Bishop who said that Pope Francis was “shocked” by plans to introduce adoption laws for same-sex couples to the country, urging the bishop to do more to speak out against the legislation.

The Prime Minister of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat, earlier this year sent a strong message in support of the legislation by saying “I will not budge on the matter.”