A vote for divorce in Malta

The staunchly Catholic island of Malta voted at the weekend to end its status as the only European Nation that does not allow a divorce. A referendum provided a victory for the “Yes” camp who secured 52 per cent of the votes which is now likely to lead to legislation being placed on the statute books possibly as early as the end of the year.

Following months of campaigning The Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi conceded defeat as the first news of the results trickled in with only three of the 13 electorial districts voting against the proposal to introduce legislation which is likely to be among the most conservative in the world.

According to the terms of the referendum, divorce will only be granted if the marriage is irreparable and the couple have been separated for four of the last five years and arrangements for maintenance and childcare have been agreed.

The bitter dispute which involved mudslinging and hostility culminating in an apology from the Church for the way in which the “No” campaign had been run and its role in exercising it’s influence to secure a No result.

Malta will be the last European nation to legalise divorce. Barring the Vatican the only other country without divorce legislation is the Philippines. With 95 per cent of Malta’s population being Catholics the voting was always going to be close.

We will watch with interest how this develops for UK expats currently living in Malta.

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