The small Mediterranean Island country of Malta celebrated its annual Pride festival today. The event had originally been scheduled for June but was postponed to avoid clashing with the country’s snap general election.
Malta has a population of approximately 400,000 and is traditionally very Catholic. There are over 450 churches dotted across the island. It was only five years ago that a national referendum marginally voted in favor of legalizing divorce. Despite this, in the last ten years, there have been great strides in LGBTI rights.
Civil unions became law in 2014, and same-sex couples can now adopt. Late last year, it became the first country in Europe to ban so-called conversion therapy, and in the last couple of months, it passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
This has led to the annual Malta Pride parade growing year upon year. The first one in 2004 attracted around 75 people, but last year’s event drew around 900. Organisers estimate today’s event attracted 2,500; a significant increase.
It assembled in St George’s Square before slowly making its way down Republic Street to Jean Vallette Plaza, where a small, rainbow decorated stage hosted speakers and performances.
‘The change has been quick but relatively smooth’
Gabi Calleja, a local LGBTI activist, told GSN that she believed civil unions had helped change attitudes towards gay people on the island.
‘Definitely. I think there have been around 200 same-sex civil unions since the law passed, and that means 200 celebrations, which could draw 200-500 people to every one – we see them married like any other couple … it has helped.
‘And I think just the fact they’ve been happening and nothing has changed in Maltese society. No-one’s marriage has failed because of the introduction of civil unions.’
Calleja said that things had changed quickly.
‘The change has been quick but relatively smooth.’
The festivities will continue this evening with an official Pride party at Medasia Playa.
Check out more photos below
Check out Facebook video from Malta Pride below