Malta, a predominately Roman Catholic country that only legalized divorce in 2011, has approved same-sex marriage.
The Mediterranean island’s Parliament voted 66 to 1 in favor of amending its constitution to include a gender-neutral definition of marriage, according to the BBC. Marriage will now be defined as between a “spouse” rather than between a “husband” or “wife.”
While The Catholic Church objected to the legislation, Malta’s Labor party introduced the bill in spite of their protestation after winning a second term last month. The Associated Press reported that Equality Minister Helena Dali said the purpose of the bill was to “modernize the institution of marriage.”
The AP also noted that the law will now remove gender-based terms from birth certificates. “Father” and “mother” will now be replaced by “the person who gave birth” and “the other parent.”
After the legislation passed, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat spoke to a crowd in Malta’s capital, Valletta. “We live in a society where we can all say ‘we are equal,’” Muscat said during the celebration.
Abortion remains illegal in Malta. However, at the rate its government is toppling Catholic mandates, that might change soon.