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Same-sex couples can officially begin to apply for weddings in Malta

As of this weekend, same-sex couples in Malta can begin to apply for marriage permits.

Same-sex marriage was legalised on July 12 but now the law has been finalised same-sex couples can begin to officially fill out applications.

The law became official on September 1.

All marriage applications in the country, be it for heterosexual or homosexual couples, have a waiting period of six weeks.

This means that the first same-sex weddings will likely begin in November.

Gabi Calleja, a spokesperson for Malta Gay Rights Movement, celebrated the quick turn around of the law since it was passed on July 12.

She said: “It’s quite extraordinary to have come so far in such a small time.”

“It’s great to have both sides of the house vote for equality – unanimously.

“While of course there are some concerns from the conservative side, Maltese society has become much more accepting of the LGBTI community and rainbow families.”

The law passed with little political opposition.

66 of the country’s 67 Members of Parliament voted in favour, all except Edwin Vassallo.

Vassallo, a member of the conservative Nationalist Party, ignored his own party’s whip to cast his vote against the legislation.

Explaining his vote, Vassallo said he could not set aside his religious beliefs.

Speaking to the Malta Independent, he took exception to parts of the bill that modernise the country’s legal system, removing gendered terms like ‘husband and wife’.

He said: “[It] completely removes the concept of the nuclear family, mother, father, son and daughter. This was never promised in the election manifesto and it is why I voted against the bill after I had asked for a free vote, which was denied.”

When the UK voted on equal marriage, 170 MPs voted against. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel joined 225 members of the Bundestag in voting against. In France, 229 MPs were opposed.

In 2015 Malta was ranked the best place in Europe for LGBT rights by the International Lesbian-Gay Association.

Despite not having marriage equality, the small island nation had granted 89 percent of the total rights putting it ahead of the UK, Belgium and Sweden.

The ranking marked a turn around for the country as it sat in 18th place just two years prior.

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