Maltese lawmakers voted on Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the 24th country in the world where gay and lesbian couples can marry.

According to Reuters, the bill passed with a 66-1 vote. There were no abstentions.

Last month, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was sworn in for a second term in office after calling for a snap election in May. Muscat's Labour Party won a clear majority in parliament. Muscat campaigned on a promise to legalize marriage for gay couples. Other campaign pledges included lower taxes and higher pensions.

The law removes words such as “husband” and “wife” from the Marriage Act and replaces them with the gender-neutral “spouse.”

After the vote, Muscat told reporters: “I think this is a historic vote. It shows that our democracy and our society are maturing … It is a society where we can all say we are equal.”

Since 2014 Malta has recognized gay couples with civil unions. According to various reports, same-sex couples will be able to marry in Malta before the end of July.

The Constitution of Malta establishes Roman Catholicism as the state religion and 88.6% of citizens identify as Catholic. Despite the Catholic hierarchy's opposition to marriage equality, support has increased dramatically in the last decade. Polling in 2006 found overwhelming (73%) opposition to same-sex marriage among Maltese. The same Eurobarometer survey in 2015 found majority (65%) support.

The Mediterranean island nation is the European Union's smallest, with a population of 400,000. According to NBC News, Malta's economy is one of the strongest in the 19-member euro zone.