Malta seeks to legalize civil unions today

Malta is expected to legalize civil unions today, giving gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in the predominantly Catholic country.

The legislation has created controversy in recent weeks as Malta‘s Labour government is attempting to make good on campaign promises regarding the legal recognition of same-sex couples.

The opposition Nationalist Party is expected to abstain from the vote, primarily because the legislation gives gay couples the right to adopt.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat described the change as a very important moment for Malta.

“This is the essence of equality, the apex of European values. It also shows that with political will, even a conservative society can boldly transform itself,” Muscat told dpa.

The very conservative country – 90% Catholic – only legalized divorce in 2011.