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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 20
Italy passes same-sex civil unions
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Italy passes same-sex civil unions

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Italy's parliament passed same-sex civil unions on May 11, with 369 voting in favor of the bill and 193 against.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who was strongly in favor of the measure, made the vote a 'vote of confidence' in his government, meaning that his supporters were forced to vote for the measure because he would have to resign if it failed to get a majority.

'By calling a confidence vote, we have bound the government's survival to the civil rights battle,' Renzi said on Facebook.

'[T]he laws are made for people, not for ideologies. For those who love, not for those who proclaim,' he posted after the vote.

Speaking to the frustration of LGBT activists who saw a previous attempt withdrawn after huge anti-Gay protests in 2007 - and possibly his own frustration dealing with Italy's notoriously slow legislative process, Renzi added that '[F]urther delays are not possible after years of failed attempts. We do this with humility and courage. But we do it now because in Italy it is no longer possible to continue postponing everything.'

Renzi did not get everything he wanted in the legislation, however. As a compromise with strong opposition led by the Roman Catholic Church, a provision for same-sex spouses to adopt their partner's biological children was scrapped. While adoption will not be ruled out entirely, judges will decide on a case-by-case basis.



While Renzi called May 11 a 'day of celebration,' LGBT rights activists were less than enthusiastic about the compromise legislation.

'The glass is half full,' Gabriele Piazzoni, National Secretary of the Arcigay organization, said in a statement.

The leader of the Rainbow Families Association, Marilena Grassadonia, slammed the bill as a 'a monument to the hypocrisy and ineptitude of a political class.'

'This government will go down in history not for having passed the first law on gay unions, but for having denied children their family rights,' she added.

The Democratic Party senator who sponsored the original bill, Monica CirinnĂ , called its passage a 'hollow' victory.

'I'm thinking of the children of so many friends,' she said, referring to the bill's missing adoption provisions.

CirinnĂ  said that while the passage of the bill finally recognizes same-sex couples in Italy, there is still some way to go until they enjoy the rights extended to heterosexual ones.

'Now, we must take the second step,' she declared.



Catholic Church officials also criticized the new law, but for going too far.

Catholic Archbishop Michele Pennisi told La Reppublica newspaper that Renzi had rammed the law through without popular support.

'There is a big slice of the country that does not want this law,' the Archbishop said. 'I believe this way of doing things is creeping fascism.'

Meanwhile, Archbishop Bruno Forte, who headed the church's recent Synod on the Family, told a local newspaper, 'It is certainly a defeat and also an impoverishment of democratic life on a question that can have an enormous impact on the future of society.'

Forte added that all families need 'the fundamental reciprocity between man and woman' at their core.

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