Finally, Maltese say yes to divorce

Lets part legally

Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando (right) celebrates the victory of the ‘yes’ camp with yes movement chairman Deborah Schembri at a polling station in Valetta. AFPGonzi, who campaigned against the introduction of divorce in the last European country where it is illegal, said it was now up the Mediterranean archipelago’s parliament to legalise the dissolution of marriage.

“This is not the result that I wished for, but the will of the people has to be respected and parliament should enact a law for the introduction of divorce,” the conservative prime minister said.

Malta is one of only two countries in the world — the Philippines is the other — that bans divorce. Chile was the last country to legalise divorce in 2004 after public pressure.

Saturday’s non-binding referendum asked the island’s 3,06,000 mainly Catholic voters whether parliament should introduce a new law that would allow couples to obtain a divorce after four years of separation.

Legal separation is widespread in the European Union’s smallest member state, but there are many legal obstacles to re-marrying.

“The yes vote has won and we urge parliamentarians to vote a bill for the introduction of divorce,” said lawyer Deborah Schembri, who led the ‘yes’ campaign.

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