A new victory for the global LGBTI community
Malta has become the 15th country in the European Union and the 25th in the world to approve same-sex marriage.
This marks another important step on the road towards equal rights for the LGBTI community, especially when you consider that in Malta – the smallest state in the EU – Catholicism is the official religion. Divorce was illegal in the country until just six years ago, and abortion remains so.
On Wednesday, the Maltese parliament voted almost unanimously for an amendment which will allow homosexuals to marry. The only vote against was cast by Christian nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo, who claimed that the law was ‘morally unacceptable’ and that his faith prevented him from endorsing it. However, his opposition could not prevent the vote passing (by 66-1). The new legislation will replace the traditional ‘you are now husband and wife’ declaration in civil ceremonies with ‘you are now spouses’.
‘I think this is an historic vote. It shows that our democracy and our society are maturing … It is a society where we can all say we are equal,’ the prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, told reporters after the vote. Muscat had promised before his recent reelection that the first law he would approve upon winning a second term would be in support of marriage equality.
With the passing of this new legislation, Malta has made marriage completely gender neutral, allowing gay men, lesbians, transexuals, intersexual and non-binary individuals to marry freely. In addition, people will be able to have children without having to make reference to the child’s gender on the birth certificate.
The results of the vote were greeted with joy by crowds of people gathered outside the prime minister’s office in the capital, Valletta. The streets of the city filled with rainbow flags, and revelers let off fireworks. A sentence was projected on one of the buildings in the square, summing up the sentiment of the hundreds of Maltese people who had come out to celebrate: ‘We Made History’.