Malta same-sex marriage law takes effect

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A law that allows same-sex couples to legally marry in Malta took effect on Friday.

Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, a local advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Friday during a telephone interview that same-sex couples can now fill out a marriage application with local officials. Calleja noted there is a 6-week waiting period under Maltese law before they — and any other couple — can legally tie the knot.

The Maltese Parliament in July nearly unanimously approved the marriage bill. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was re-elected in June, is among those who backed the measure.

“Today is when it comes into force,” Calleja told the Blade.

ILGA-Europe and Rainbow Rose, the LGBT network of the Party of European Socialists, also applauded Muscat and Maltese advocates on Friday.

Same-sex couples can legally marry in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. A law that will allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in Germany is slated to take effect on Oct. 1.

A Maltese law that allows trans people, among other things, legally change their name or gender without undergoing a sex-reassignment surgery or hormone therapy and provides legal protections to intersex children took effect in 2015. Malta last December became the first country in Europe to ban so-called conversion therapy.

Calleja told the Blade a strong Maltese advocacy movement and Muscat’s 2013 election that brought his liberal Labor Party to power have contributed to the rapid advancement of LGBT and intersex-specific issues in the country.

“It’s been a rapid change over the last four to five years,” said Calleja.

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