Malta on Friday became the latest nation where gay and lesbian couples can marry.

Maltese lawmakers in July approved a same-sex marriage bill.

While the legislation took effect on Friday and gay couples can apply for a marriage license, Malta's six-week waiting period means couples won't be able to tie the knot until mid-October.

In June, 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, paving the way for passage of Muscat's campaign promise to legalize marriage for gay couples.

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

Since 2014 Malta has recognized gay couples with civil unions.

Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the Malta LGBTQ Rights Movement, told the Washington Blade that Muscat's government has widely embraced LGBT rights.

“It's been a rapid change over the last four to five years,” she said.

Polling shows support for marriage equality growing from 27 percent in 2006 to 65 percent in 2015.

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.