New law will allow Maltese couples to divorce

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Maltese citizens will no longer have to travel abroad to divorce, following yesterday's overwhelming vote in favour of finally allowing couples to end their marriages at home on the heavily Catholic island nation.

Prior to the vote, Malta was the only European Union nation without divorce legislation. The law will take effect in October, after Malta's President is expected to sign it.

Parliament acted yesterday after nearly 53 per cent of voters said "yes" to divorce in a referendum on 28 May. The vote was a blow to the ruling Nationalist Party, which had opposed divorce ahead of the referendum.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was one of the few who voted against the bill, believing that new divorce laws would weaken the structure of the family. Until now, citizens could only get a divorce abroad. AP