Malta's parliament has voted in favour of a bill to make a form of partnership registration and adoptions possible for same-sex couples. The bill of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's party (Labour) was supported by 37 members of parliament. The 30 members of the opposition party (Nationalist Party) abstained.
The leader of the Nationalist Party Simon Busuttil stated that his party does support same-sex partner registration, but is hesitant when it comes to adoption. The opposition leader regrets that because of the adoption clause, there is no unanimity in the parliament for the partnership registration. The opposition would have preferred a separate bill on adoption. According to Busuttil, the majority of the Maltese population is against adoption by same-sex couples. Busuttil blamed Prime Minister Muscat for consciously creating disunity instead of striving for unity.
The bill does not only arrange partnership registration and adoption, but also marriages or registered partnerships of Maltese same-sex couples that were entered into abroad. These will now be recognised as a registered partnership in Malta. Furthermore, possible foreign partners of Maltese citizens who entered into a lawful relationship abroad, will now get a residence permit.
Immediately after the vote, a large party was held at the square in from of the parliamentary building in the Maltese capital Valetta. Prime Minster Muscat was received with cheers by a thousand people. In a short speech, the Prime Minister says that Malta made a big step towards a liberal and free society. “I have done this for my children, to make sure that they grow up in a country with equality.”
Partnership registration of same-sex couples and adoption by these couples was a campaign promise made by the Labour Party during the elections that were held last year. The new Maltese president Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, member of the Labour Party, was inaugurated on the 4th of April 2014, and declared that she will ratify the bill with her signature.
Malta is the 22nd European country to adopt a form of partnership registration and the 10th country that makes adoption by same-sex couples possible. In 1989, Denmark was the first country in the world to adopt partnership registration for same-sex couples, shortly followed by Norway (1993), Sweden (1995) and Iceland (1996). These countries have opened up marriage for same-sex couples and cancelled partnership registration as a legal form of relationship. In The Netherlands, partnership registration had been adopted (for all couples) in 1998. Since 2006, same-sex couples can also adopt a child.
The Maltese parliament also voted on an amendment to the constitution to ban discrimination. From now on, it is also illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on Malta.