Lawmakers in Gibraltar have approved a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil partnerships.

The 2.3 square mile island off the coast of Spain is home to almost 30,000 citizens; its Rock of Gibraltar is a major tourist destination.

Gay and straight couples may enter a civil partnership, which provides many of the benefits and obligations of marriage, including the right to adopt.

Felix Alvarez, chairman of The Equal Rights Group, applauded the move.

β€œIt has been very difficult at times, but we never doubted the change would eventually come, as we witnessed how support grew larger and wider as we counted the years,” Alvarez said in a statement.

β€œFor us, it is a source of much pride that this respect for open discussion and constitutional means has, with patience and determination, brought the fruit of much labor.”

Alvarez's group is also lobbying for passage of a law which would prohibit businesses from discriminating against the LGBT community

Gay sex was legalized in Gibraltar in 1993.