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
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
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
News, Malta's economy is one of the strongest in the 19-member