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Divorce is Still a Hot Topic in Malta

As difficult as seeking divorce in Pasadena is, at least divorce is legal here in the United States. In the small country of Malta, divorce is not an option. But as the country's European influence grows stronger and the its population grows, divorce has become a hot button issue for the Maltese.

Malta for decades has been one of the few places on earth where divorce wasn't legal. The Catholic influence on the country kept divorce out. As Chapter 1, Article 2 (2) of the Maltese constitution plainly states, "The authorities of the Roman Catholic apostolic church have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are wrong." While the country allows religious freedoms, Catholicism is the official state religion of Malta. Annulments and separation can be granted by the Civil Code and Marriage Act.

Yet as neighboring Mediterranean countries like Tunisia and Egypt struggle publicly with civil liberties and democracy issues, Maltese residents are split down the middle on whether the country should allow the practice of divorce. The heated debates and passionate public campaigns are reminiscent of this country's current battle over gay marriages. Everybody in Malta has an opinion about the topic and this summer the Maltese will take their passions to the polls. For the first time, Maltese citizens will get to voice their opinions on divorce at their local polling place.

Facebook pages for both sides of the issue have been set up, while commercials much like our own political ads are currently airing on TV. Those in favor of divorce argue that Maltese can still believe in God and be good Catholics if they receive a divorce. They call it a "non-issue" and believe Malta's sensitivity towards it is keeping the country in the dark ages. Traditional Maltese citizens against divorce believe that legalizing it would tear families apart and destroy the country's longstanding convictions.

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