817 divorces granted since legislation enacted by parliament

Malta marks two-year anniversary since 53% said ‘yes’ in historic divorce referendum.

Arthur Galea Salomone, from the No divorce movement, shakes hands with Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando after result was announced. (Photo: Ray Attard/Mediatoday)
Arthur Galea Salomone, from the No divorce movement, shakes hands with Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando after result was announced. (Photo: Ray Attard/Mediatoday)

Since the introduction of divorce in Malta, 820 cases were presented to the courts and 817 divorces were granted.

Two years ago today, 122,547 voters voted in favour of the introduction of divorce in Malta marking a landslide victory for the now defunct 'Yes for divorce' movement led by now Labour MP Deborah Schembri and former Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.

Taking the Nationalist Party by surprise, then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had admitted: "The result in favour of divorce is not the result I wanted but now we will see that the will of the majority is executed and a divorce law is enacted. This won't be an easy process, it is not an easy change... there will be MPs who will abstain or vote against."

Two months later, the divorce legislation was approved in parliament with 52 votes in favour, 11 against and five abstentions. All Labour MPs had voted in favour of the legislation with the exception of Adrian Vassallo who did not attend the parliamentary sitting that evening.

The MPs who had voted against included Gonzi, Frederick Azzopardi, Jason Azzopardi, Tonio Borg, Giovanna Debono, Louis Deguara, Beppe Fenech Adami, Austin Gatt, , Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Edwin Vassallo.

The divorce legislation grants divorce to couples that have been separated or living apart for the past four years in the last five years.

Before May 2011, few would have been bold enough to predict that divorce would be part of Malta's code of laws. Most predictions had in fact suggested the very opposite.

On Saturday 28 May 2011, almost three-quarters of the electorate went out to vote in the divorce referendum. The non-binding referendum passed with 53% in favour of divorce and 46% against.

According to a MaltaToday survey carried in December 2011, the introduction of divorce emerged as the most positive thing that happened during that year.

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