Malta legalises same-sex unions and adoption
Malta on Monday (14 April) legalised both same-sex unions and joint adoptions by gay couples.
"Malta is now more liberal and more European, and it has given equality to all its people," said Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, reports Reuters.
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Lawmakers in Malta's parliament voted 37-0 to legalise the two measures, sparking celebrations in the capital.
The new law defines gay unions as registered partnerships, with all the rights and obligations of married heterosexual couples.
Brussels-based Ilga-Europe, the EU umbrella organisation for the rights of LGBTI people, said the new law gives "almost all the same rights and protections as married heterosexual couples".
The Times of Malta reports the new law means transgender people can also marry a person of the other gender.
The opposition Nationalist Party abstained from the vote. It raised concerns over allowing gay couples to adopt children.
Malta already allowed for a single gay adult to adopt a child but restricted joint adoption for gay couples because they were not defined as a family unit.
Malta's anti-discrimination laws have also been expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Malta Gay Rights Movement, for its part, says it's been advocating for the legal recognition of same-sex couples and their families for the past 13 years.
Malta now joins the ranks of 21 other European countries, which legally recognise same-sex unions. It also becomes the tenth European nation to allow adoptions by same-sex couples.