Malta passes equal marriage, with just one vote against
Malta’s Parliament has overwhelmingly passed marriage equality.
The country’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, a strong supporter of LGBT equality, brought forward proposals to introduce equal marriage earlier this year.
Today the proposals were given final approval by the country’s Parliament, paving the way for gay couples to start marrying.
The law furthers reforms first made in 2014, when civil unions were opened up to same-sex couples.
The bill has attracted some controversy, with some conservatives objecting to changes contained within the legislation, that overhaul the country’s laws to remove traditionally-gendered language like ‘husband and wife’ and ‘mother and father’.
However, the bill was given the green light today, passing its third reading near-unanimously.
The bill’s passage was remarkably smooth, with just one of the country’s 67 MPs voting against the law – Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo.
The Nationalist Party leadership had accused the government of rushing through the changes without proper consultation, but ultimately voted in favour of the law.
Nationalist whip David Agius had previously suggested the bill might lead to Mother’s Day being outlawed, a claim that was much mocked.
Under Muscat’s leadership, the traditionally-conservative Catholic island nation become one of the most progressive in Europe for LGBT people.
Malta has outlawed ‘gay cure’ therapy and passed progressive reforms for transgender and intersex people.
The PM has urged other Commonwealth countries to follow Malta’s example and throw out their archaic Colonial-era anti-LGBT laws.
Speaking about the need for tolerance at a Commonwealth event, Mr Muscat said: “I want to single out the respect for LGBTIQ persons, the lack of it.
“The remarkable number of our countries [with anti-LGBT laws] is, arguably, a considerable blot on our family of nations’ standing.
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“I had conversations and am aware that there are leaders who know that things must change, but are wary of how society will react to their first move.”
Malta, which has a population of just 430,000, is the second country in just a few weeks to pass equal marriage.
The German Parliament voted through a same-sex marriage bill late last month, after Chancellor Angela Merkel reversed her long-standing position to allow a free vote on the issue.
393 members of Germany’s parliament voted in favour of the bill, with 296 voting against and 4 abstentions.
Merkel had blocked progress for more than a decade in the country, but backed down just weeks before an election where her left-wing opponents had promised equal marriage.