After Monday’s overwhelming vote in favor of finally allowing couples to end their marriages in the heavily Catholic island nation of Malta, people don’t have to travel abroad anymore just to file for divorce.
Malta was the only European Union nation without the divorce legislation prior to Monday’s vote.
Malta’s president George Abela is expected to sign in October and the law will take effect.
There was a referendum on May 28th and the Parliament took action on Monday after almost 53 percent of voters said yes to divorce.
The Nationalist Party opposed divorce ahead of the referendum and the vote came as a blow to them.
According to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, divorce will weaken the family structure. He was one of the few who voted against the bill.
The opposition Labour Party called for Gonzi’s resignation after he voted “no” in an earlier vote on July 13. The Labour Party said he was not respecting the people’s will.
Although there were improvements on the legislation after several amendments, Gonzi still felt uncomfortable with the bill that’s why he voted against it.
The Prime Minister’s vote was inexplicable, according to Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat. He added that Gonzi once again ignored how the people voted in the referendum.
Maltese citizens could only get divorce abroad up to now.
785 Maltese couples divorce this way with numbers slowly increasing from seven in 1981 to 47 in 2010. Considering that most laws in Malta are passed by just one vote, the result was crushing. The bill was passed with 52 votes in favor, 11 against and five abstentions, while one MP was absent.
Going against their party’s official stand, nineteen Nationalist MPs approved the legislation.