July 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Malta same-sex marriage bill receives final approval

Malta, gay news, Washington Blade

A bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Malta received final approval on July 12, 2017. (Photo public domain)

A bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Malta received final approval on Wednesday.

Lawmakers approved the Marriage Equality Bill by a 66-1 vote margin. The vote took place a week after the Maltese Parliament nearly unanimously approved the Marriage Equality Bill.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was re-elected last month, is among those who support the measure.

“Marriage equality is now reality in Malta,” said Muscat on his Twitter page shortly after the bill passed. “Pledge fulfilled. Future sealed.”

The Malta Gay Rights Movement on its Twitter page noted Wednesday’s vote caps off efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples that began 16 years ago. ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis in a statement applauded local advocates and the Maltese government.

“This step is the icing on the cake of the tremendous work by the Maltese LGBTI movement,” she said. “We congratulate the Maltese government for sticking to its commitments. We applaud everyone who has been working on this. To see equal marriage supported by practically the entire parliament is amazing.”

The Malta Independent, a newspaper in the small archipelago that is located in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the North African coast, reported roughly 150 people gathered outside the Maltese Parliament on Tuesday to protest the bill. The Roman Catholic Church also opposed the measure.

German lawmakers approved a same-sex marriage bill on June 30.

Gays and lesbians can legally marry in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

A law that allows trans Maltese to, among other things, legally change their name or gender without undergoing a sex-reassignment surgery or hormone therapy and provides legal protections to intersex children took effect in 2015. Malta last December became the first country in Europe to ban so-called conversion therapy.

The marriage bill is expected to take effect later this month.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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