Valletta: Malta`s parliament on Monday
adopted a law authorising divorce that is now set for formal
approval by the president and likely to come into force in
October in this overwhelmingly Catholic nation.
The law was passed by 52 votes in favour and 11
against with five abstentions, following a referendum in May
which voted in favour of the change despite the opposition of
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and his ruling Nationalist
Malta and the Philippines are currently the only
countries in the world to outlaw divorce, and the
Mediterranean island state is the only member of the European
Union to have such a ban in place.
The mini-state of the Vatican also bans divorce.
"The amendments to the original Divorce Bill had
improved the law but this does not mean I`m happy with it,"
Gonzi told reporters after Monday`s vote.
He added that he would feel "uncomfortable" about the
introduction of divorce in Malta, which is "why I voted
against it," he said.
He had, however, allowed his MPs to vote according to
their conscience and 19 of the Nationalist Party`s 35 deputies
ended up voting in favour.
Opposition leader Joseph Muscat hailed the vote but
said he was disappointed that the prime minister had voted
against the people`s will in parliament.
The Roman Catholic Church, which looms large over the
archipelago where 95 percent of the population is Catholic,
did not campaign officially in May`s non-binding referendum in
which 53 per cent of voters cast ballots in favour.