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Italy: Senate debates civil partnership legislation

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Italy: Senate debates civil partnership legislation

  • Much-delayed debate in Senate
  • Fierce political and religious opposition
  • Pope Francis wades in

The news

Italy’s parliament has begun debating a proposal giving civil partnerships legal status.

Supporters have hailed it as a step forward after several attempts to introduce such legislation since the 1980s.

The debate in the Senate, or upper house, was mainly on technical aspects such as whether the law respectedthe constitution.

Italy is the only major Western country not to recognise the unions. The bill faces fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and opposition parties.

Unmarried couples, both heterosexual and homosexual, would get certain rights if the bill were passed. These would include being able to adopt each others’ children in some circumstances and inherit their partner’s pension.

The rights under consideration are far more limited than those granted to married heterosexual couples. The bill could be watered down further as the debate continues.

The Senate will vote on it next week before it moves to the lower house.

Why has Italy taken so long?

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised legislation shortly after coming to office in 2014.

However, staunch opposition from his conservative coalition partners meant deadlines were missed.

Some fear the law will lead to full adoption rights, encouraging IVF and surrogacy, which is illegal in Italy.

The European Court of Human Rights condemned the delay last July.

Thousands rallied in support of the legislation last weekend.

What does the Pope think?

Last week, Pope Francis appeared to wade into the debate.

He defended traditional marriage unions as “the family God wants.”

What they are saying

“For the first time after so many attempts, a draft law that aims to legislate on gay people’s rights is finally being discussed.”- Gabriele Pizzoni, National Secretary of gay rights group Arcigay.

“The battle is still very long, nothing can be taken for granted. We have to be very, very watchful.This law could form a firm foundation for equality.”- Marilena Grassodonia, Association of Homosexual Parents.

“This is a really hypocritical and embarrassing law that has been made for the rich. They are making a law that will allow child adoption for gay couples who have the money to go abroad and buy themselves a child. It is a law for Elton John.”- Georgia Meloni, the National Alliance of Italian Brothers.

“Any idiot can see this is a Trojan horse”-Giorgia Meloni 

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