Malta Legalizes Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples
Great news for Malta's LGBT community.
As expected, the Maltese parliament approved a bill Monday that allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, allowing them to have the same legal rights of straight married couples, like the legal ability to adopt, Reuters reports.
According to the news site, about 1,000 people celebrated in a square outside the parliament in Valletta, the capital of Malta, which is predominantly Catholic.
The measure sparked some controversy in the weeks leading up to the vote, but Malta's Labour government vowed to approve the measure.
"Malta is now more liberal and more European and it has given equality to all its people," Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was elected last year, said according to Reuters.
As expected, the Nationalist Party abstained from the vote, saying it supported civil unions but not gay adoptions. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil cited a survey that apparently found 80 percent of the island country, located in the Mediterranean Sea about 50 miles south of Sicily, were against same-sex couples adopting.
"Malta has not been prepared for such a step," he said.
The vote may come to a surprise to some as Malta just legalized divorce in 2011. Nevertheless, before the vote was cast, Muscat had this to say:
"This is the essence of equality, the apex of European values. It also shows that with political will, even a conservative society can boldly transform itself."
It was reported that the Catholic Church does not approve of the bill with Auxiliary Bishop Charles Sciculuna saying that by equating same-sex civil unions to traditional marriage is "illogical" and "deceptive."