Malta has voted to introduce equal marriage.
The parliament of the small Mediterranean country, which is staunchly Catholic, has voted to amend the marriage act to remove the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ and replace them with ‘spouse’.
The vote in parliament was a landslide, with only one of Malta’s 67 legislators voting against the measure. Same-sex couples were previously able to enter into civil partnerships after a 2014 decision.
The country has progressed at a remarkable rate from the social conservatism of the past. Divorce was only legalised in Malta in 2011. It now becomes the 15th member of the European Union to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The law will also allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Previously, those in same-sex partnerships had to apply to adopt as single people. The Catholic Church was strongly opposed to the measure.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said: “It’s a historic vote. This shows that our democracy and society have reached a level of maturity and we can now say that we are all equal.”
Simon Busuttil, leader of the country’s opposition party, also welcomed the news. He took to Twitter to write: “By voting in favour in tonight’s vote on #MarriageEquality @PNmalta was on the right side of history.”
After the vote, Muscat’s office had the colours of the rainbow projected on it, along with the words ‘We made history’.
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) July 12, 2017