VALLETTA: Malta’s parliament voted Wednesday to allow same-sex couples to marry, three years after passing a law permitting civil partnerships in the overwhelmingly Catholic country. Lawmakers gave near-unanimous approval to the bill, which represents a major step for LGBT rights on the island, which legalized divorce only in 2011 and where abortion is outlawed. Malta, the EU’s smallest nation, becomes the bloc’s 15th member to legalize same-sex unions. The vote was one of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s first actions following his election victory last month. “It’s a historic vote. This shows that our democracy and society have reached a level of maturity and we can now say that we are all equal,” he said after the text was passed.