Malta to Legalize Civil Unions
Maltese lawmakers are expected to pass a bill Monday that will legalize civil unions, allowing same-sex couples to have the same rights as straight married couples, including the ability to adopt children, in the predominately Catholic country, Malta Today reports.
Though the measure has sparked some controversy in the last few weeks, Malta's Labour government promised to pass the bill. The Nationalist Party, which opposes the bill, is expected to abstain from the vote, Europe Online Magazine reports.
Though Malta, located in the Mediterranean Sea about 50 miles south of Sicily, only legalized divorce in 2011, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the civil unions measure is extremely important for the country.
"This is the essence of equality, the apex of European values. It also shows that with political will, even a conservative society can boldly transform itself," Muscat said.
Unsurprisingly, the Catholic Church does not approve of the measure and Auxiliary Bishop Charles Sciculuna said equating gay civil unions with traditional marriage is "illogical" and "deceptive."
More than 90 percent of people who live in Malta identify as Catholic, Europe Online Magazine reports.