"Malta is on the verge of legalising gay marriage after the government brought forward legislation to scrap gendered references to marriage in the country’s legal system.
The draft law, which has received the backing of the centre-right opposition Nationalist Party, will abolish gendered terms such as 'husband', 'wife', 'mother' and 'father' from the country’s Marriage Act and other laws and replace them with gender-neutral terminology.
It will also be made legal for gay couples to adopt children.
It marks the latest in a series of reforms designed to increase equality in the traditionally Catholic country.
Last year, Malta became the first nation to ban so-called 'gay cure' conversion therapy, making it illegal to try to 'change, repress or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression'.
'Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world,' Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, who leads the Labour Party, told the BBC.
However, some MPs have voiced concerns at the changes to marriage law. Despite the reforms being backed by his party leader, one Nationalist Party whip, David Agius, claimed the law would stop people using the words 'mum' and 'dad'.
'From now on, you cannot call your parents mum or dad because it is not in the law. Will we be celebrating person who gave birth today instead of Mother’s Day?' he said.
Malta’s archbishop, Charles Scicluna, said the church was 'not against gays' but criticised the proposed changes."
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