Italian Parliament Backs Same-Sex Union Bill

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. (photo: Wikipedia)

Italian lawmakers all but passed legislation today to allow same-sex civil unions in the country.

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won a confidence vote this afternoon that he had called to push through legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The vote passed 369-193 in favor, allowing those in homosexual unions the same legal protections as heterosexual married couples.

To become law, the bill, which also gives some rights to unmarried heterosexual couples, must be formally approved by the lower house later today. However, this is considered to be a mere formality as the confidence vote was seen as the major hurdle to overcome.

Renzi called today “a day of celebration” on his Twitter account ahead of the vote. The U.S. embassy to Italy simply tweeted “Love Wins”, a slogan used last year when the Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex “marriage”. Until today, Italy had been the last major Western democracy not to legally acknowledge civil partnerships.

Msgr. Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, called the coercive nature of the vote “a defeat for everyone.” Alfio Marchini, a center-right candidate for Rome mayor running in elections next month, said he would not celebrate homosexual unions in the capital, according to Bloomberg.

Opposition from the Church and other groups slowed the passing of the so-called Cirinna bill and meant that it was significantly watered down when the Italian Senate passed the legislation in February.

A clause allowing homosexuals to adopt their partner’s children was scrapped and although adoption is not banned, judges will be required to rule on a case-by-case basis.

Italy has been under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights which last year said the country had violated human rights by not offering enough legal protection for same-sex partnerships.

Since coming to power in 2013, Renzi, a Catholic and former Catholic Scout leader, has made it a priority of his government to push through such legislation.

In a doctrinal note on the issue in 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned that for a Catholic politician "to vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral."