Gay relationships are on track to finally be recognised in Italy after the country’s Senate voted to approve a compromised civil union bill on Thursday night.
While not full marriage equality, this is the first time Italian lawmakers have supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples. The bill next needs to be voted on by the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies.
Should it become law, the legislation will see same-sex couples receive many of the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
It has, however, been seen as a blow to the rights of same-sex families. The original bill would have allowed gay people to adopt their partner’s biological children but this was dropped at the last minute following fierce opposition.
Additionally, a fidelity clause, requiring couples to remain faithful to each other, was removed to appease opponents who claimed that the clause was an attempt to emulate marriage vows.
The changes have been condemned by furious LGBT rights groups who say that the compromise is not acceptable and will allow discrimination against children in same-sex families to continue and perpetuate existing legal uncertainty.
“Voting in favour of legal recognition for same-sex couples is a hugely important and symbolic moment for LGBTI people in Italy,” commented Brian Sheehan, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, but he argued that the amendments to the bill do “not respect the dignity of existing LGBTI families.”
The organisation expressed its disappointment “that this step towards equality for same-sex couples has been marred by divisive, polarising political discussions that ignore the reality of family life in Italy.”
Italy is the last major European nation to not recognise lesbian and gay relationships. In July last year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the country was violating the human rights of gay and lesbian couples by not affording them any legal recognition.