Malta legalizes same-sex marriage despite Catholic Church opposition

Malta, an island nation whose population is mostly made up of Roman Catholics, has legalized same-sex marriage on July 12 despite the objection of the Church.

(REUTERS / Darrin Zammit Lupi)People take a selfie while celebrating after the Maltese parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage on the Roman Catholic Mediterranean island, in Valletta, Malta July 12, 2017.

Edwin Vassallo, the only lawmaker out of the 67 in the country's parliament who voted against same-sex marriage, said his Catholic faith clashes with the "morally unacceptable" legislation. With the vote, Malta has effectively replaced the civil ceremony declaration of being a "husband and wife" to the neutral term "spouses," the Sacramento Bee reported.

For Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the landmark vote showed that Malta has now reached a new "level of maturity." He said the citizens now live in a society where equality is hailed and added that having separate laws for heterosexual and homosexual couples is discriminatory.

A few days before the debate on the same-sex marriage law ensued, Archbishop Charles Scicluna delivered a homily voicing out his opposition to the legislation. He maintained that marriage should be an exclusive union of a man and a woman, in accordance with Catholic teachings.

"I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name," said Archbishop Scicluna. "But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman."

The same-sex marriage law, which was introduced by Malta Equality Minister Helena Dalli, aimed to allow all consenting adult couples to get married. The legislation also replaces the terms "father and mother" with "parents." For lesbian couples, the terms "the person who gave birth" and "the other parent" are used.

Malta Today approached people randomly on Republic Street and asked about their opinion on the same-sex marriage issue. Most of the 25 people who agreed to the camera interview had no problem with the legislation and said all people have the right to get married.

However, there were still a few who strongly disagreed with the legalization of same-sex marriage. One elderly man cited his Catholic belief as the reason for his stance. A young woman also expressed concern that children adopted by gay couples might be confused by their situation.

Meanwhile, a local Franciscan priest warned against the danger of following the pulse of the majority. He reminded people what happened when people elected Hitler and Mussolini, and recalled how Jesus Christ was crucified after the crowd chose Barabbas over him.