On Monday, the Maltese government legalized same-sex unions as well as adoption by homosexual couples.
The unanimous vote is seen as a major cultural shift in social policy in a country where Catholicism is the state religion and 98% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic.
While slightly less than half the population supports the Civil Unions bill, only an estimated 20% support same-sex couples adopting children. The bill was pushed through by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of the Labour Party. Members of the opposition Nationalist Party abstained from the vote, saying that while it supports civil unions, it did not support adoptions by homosexual couples.
“Malta is now more liberal and more European, and it has given equality to all its people,” Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said after the vote.
The Catholic Church, while saying that the civil unions bill has some good points, the law is flawed in placing civil unions on par with traditional marriage.
Bishop Charles Scicluna, auxiliary bishop of Malta said in an interview with The Malta Independent before the vote that he regrets the fact that the law allows the adoption of children by homosexual couples.
“This does not reflect the order established by God in creation and may expose the children, eventually entrusted to such adoptive parents, to adverse effects,” he said. “This goes against the principle that the best interests of the child should be the paramount concern in legislation. It is hoped that this principle will remain paramount whenever the new law is applied.” (J.A.E.)