Updated - Opposition MPs are likely to abstain when the final vote on the Civil Unions Bill is taken this evening.

The law will grant gay couples the same rights and obligations as married people, including the possibility to adopt children.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil yesterday avoided the issue during the customary Sunday morning address to party supporters. But when asked later by this newspaper on how the party will vote on the third and final reading of the Bill, he said an explanation would be given “just before the vote”.

Dr Busuttil said the matter had been “discussed at length” within the parliamentary group over the past six months. “The decision will only be final at the moment the vote is cast,” he added.

However, party sources said MPs were split on the issue with gay adoptions proving to be the most controversial aspect of the Bill. While a significant number of MPs had argued in favour of a free vote, it was decided the best solution would be for the PN to “unite” and abstain, the sources said.

FORMER PN MP, CANDIDATE WISH THEIR PARTY HAD DONE MORE

Meanwhile, former Nationalist MP Karl Gouder, a senior official within the party, said in a tweet today: "Today is an important Day for Malta, just wish that the party I love so much could have done more to get to this day."

Edward Demicoli, a former PN candidate for the Europeran Parliament elections agreed with Mr Gouder. He said on Facebook: "Agree wholeheartedly. On social issues our party is on the wrong side of history."

The LGBT community is to hold celebrations in Palace square  A programme starting at 8.30pm will feature entertainers Ray Calleja, Chunky, Glen Vella, Claudia Faniello, Amber, Davinia, Daniel Testa, Muxu and Renato.

The MGRM is inviting those present to wear wedding attire.

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