Malta’s president pledges to push marriage equality through quickly

Malta's President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

Malta’s president has pledged to push a marriage equality bill through as quickly as possible.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca announced following the election earlier this month that equal rights were on top of the agenda of the new government.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was elected for a second term.

On Monday, the first bill for “equality in marriage” will be debated.

President Coleiro Preca said that the move for civil rights would build on the PM’s first successful term which saw the first budget surplus for three decades.

Malta is a socially conservative Catholic country.

Divorces were only legalised in 2011, and civil unions were introduced in 2014.

Malta recently became the first country in Europe to ban “gay cure” therapy.

The island nation made history as it passed a bill which meant that any medical professional found guilty of practising the homophobic “therapy” could face a prison sentence.

Offenders can face a fine of up to $5,000 or up to five years in prison in more serious cases.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat urged Commonwealth countries to overthrow archaic anti-LGBT laws stemming from Colonial times.

Speaking about the need for tolerance, Mr Muscat said: “I want to single out the respect for LGBTIQ persons, the lack of it. The remarkable number of our countries [with anti-LGBT laws] is, arguably, a considerable blot on our family of nations’ standing.

“I had conversations and am aware that there are leaders who know that things must change but are wary of how society will react to their first move.

“To them, I said and I say, that the Commonwealth will be with them to help make their first steps. History, I am sure, will judge them positively when they do so.”