The Divorce Bill was approved by the House of Representatives this morning, with 52 voting in favour, 11 against and five abstaining. All Labour MPs voted in favour except Adrian Vassallo, a strong opponent of divorce, who was not present.
The vote was greeted with applause.
All that remains is for the President’s signature for the Bill to become law.
Malta’s divorce law in the international media
Various international media carry the news that the Maltese Parliament has passed the Bill providing for the introduction of divorce as of October 1.
Commenting on the fact that MPs passed the law by 52 votes to 11 with five abstentions and one absence, the Associated Press said that the outcome in parliament “is a crushing victory considering that most laws in Malta are passed by just one vote.”
CBS News notes that “19 Nationalist MPs approved the legislation, going against their party’s official stand”.
In the UK, The Independent says “Maltese citizens will no longer have to travel abroad to divorce, following yesterday’s overwhelming vote in favour, finally allowing couples to end their marriages at home on the heavily Catholic island nation.”
AFP says “The law was passed following a referendum in May which voted in favour of the change despite the opposition of Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and his ruling Nationalist Party.” It quotes Dr Gonzi saying, “The amendments to the original Divorce Bill had improved the law but this does not mean I’m happy with it.” He added that he fet “uncomfortable” about the introduction of divorce in Malta, which was “why I voted against it”.
ABC News quotes Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat describing the Prime Minister’s vote as “inexplicable,” saying Dr Gonzi had once again ignored how the people voted in the referendum. It adds that “Up to now, Maltese citizens could only obtain divorce abroad. In the last 30 years, 785 Maltese couples divorced this way, with numbers gradually rising from seven in 1981 to 47 in 2010.”