In an interesting development worthy of being the answer to a trivia question the largest European Union member state, Germany with its 80 million citizens, and the smallest, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta with roughly 400,000 people, both have moved within a week of each-other to legalize Same Sex Marriage. This move is especially surprising in the case of Malta because it, unlike constitutionally secular Germany, has an official state religion, Roman Catholicism which has been notably hostile to adoption rights for same sex couples, as well as same sex marriage which makes this move by the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, politically risky. This is not to say Muscat is making the wrong choice as according to polling data from 2016 gathered by Eurobarometer roughly 60 percent of Maltese citizens support same-sex marriage which although not an overwhelming mandate is still a decent majority which could be used to legislate.

The centre-right, which has formed a coalition with Muscat’s Labour Party, supports the Marriage Equality Bill which also scraps the inclusion of gendered terms (most notably husband and wife) in the existing Marriage Act of Malta. Among the other changes, it also addresses the issue of same-sex adoption which it will permit. As mentioned due to the state relationship with Catholicism, not everyone is enthusiastic about the proposed legal changes with Archbishop Charles Scicluna saying that it signals the end of Mother’s Day and undermines the procreative nature of sexual intercourse. Whether or not Scicluna’s concerns are taken into account and the bill is eventually watered down or scrapped all together is up for speculation. What is not is the goal of Muscat’s government which he claims is to “put issues of equality as a matter of principle rather than mere cosmetic changes.”. At this point in time, there is not a definite timetable for passage although it could be soon given the reaction of opponents and the excitement of supporters.

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