Divorce was introduced in Malta after 53% voted for it in a referendum held a year ago. Joseph Muscat campaigned for this civil right to be introduced. Lawrence Gonzi opposed the introduction of this civil right at every stage: during the referendum and in parliament when the bill was debated and voted on to be made law.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had decided to hold a referendum on the divorce issue but then he was one of 11 government MPs who voted against the introduction of divorce in parliament, with 52 including 19 government MPs voting in favour.
Gonzi first said the people would decide about the introduction of divorce in Malta and then when they decided in favour, he voted against their will.
During the referendum campaign Gonzi had said that divorce was going to destroy marriage and that people would now start divorcing when they face the slightest problems.
Since divorce became law last October there have been 505 applications for divorce of which 234 were accepted. Most of these applications were by individuals who had already been separated.
In Malta there were 491 applications: 346 by individuals after separation, 93 by couples after separation, 37 where separation is pending and only 15 by couples not previously separated. In Gozo there were 14 applications mostly by couples already separated.
Before the introduction of divorce an average of 40 divorces per year granted by courts in other countries used to be registered in Malta. Those who could not get a divorce from a foreign court were denied this right.
Divorce does not break up marriage. Couples separate or divorce because they find it impossible to live together any longer. Divorce gives them a new chance to start a new life either alone or with someone else. A year ago, the majority of the Maltese, who do not need divorce, because they are happily married, decided not to turn their backs on those whose marriage has broken down and want a new start in life.