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Religious Tolerance logo

Recognition of same-sex relationships


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2015-JUL-21: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued ruling that criticized Italy's laws:

The European Court ruled that Italy’s refusal to recognize same-sex unions violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Article deals with governments' respect for private and family life. The Court had reviewed the complaints of three male same-sex couples in Italy who had been refused marriage licenses. The ECHR ruled that the Italian Government failed to:

"... provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship." 1

The Court ordered the Italian government to pay the six men 5,000 Euros each, plus costs. 5,000 Euros was equivalent at the time to about $5,500 U.S. Dollars. 1

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2016-FEB-25: A bill legalizing Civil Unions was passed by the Italian Senate:

Following a lenghty struggle that extended for almost three decades, the upper chamber of the Italian Parliament -- the Senate -- approved a bill that would create a system of civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The bill raised a lot of opposition.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi leads a center-left coalition whose members had conflicting views on the bill. Many were particularly opposed to the granting of some adoption rights to couples in civil unions. Many Senators with close connection to the Roman Catholic Church objected in particular to a clause that would permit one gay person in a civil union to adopt their partner's child. These Senators felt that this would encourage surrogate parenthood which is not legal in Italy. This clause was removed from the bill before the vote. However, most of the original provisions of the bill remain. Civil unionized partners will be able to benefit from many of the advantages formerly restricted to married couples, including:

  • Receiving their deceased partner's pension;

  • The right to assume the name of their partner;

  • Protection during medical emergencies, and

  • Inheritance rights. 2

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In order to have the bill passed, Prime Minister Renzi made it a confidence motion. That would have required him to resign if the bill did not receive a majority vote.

The Senators passed the motion with 173 votes in favor, and 71 opposed.

P.M. Renzi wrote on his Facebook page:

"Hope has won against fear. Courage has won against discrimination. Love has won." 2

Flavio Romani, the head of Arcigay, a national pro-LGBT equality group, said:

"This text once again does not take into consideration children who need definite laws and protection. The law that has come out of all this is lacking its heart." 3

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LGBT symbol 2016-MAY-11: The Chamber of Deputies later passed the same bill:

The lower house of Parliament voted in favor of the bill by a wide margin: 369 to 193 with 2 abstentions.

Some positive responses from the LGBT community: spoken in Italian with a written translations in English:


Franco Grillini, the honorary president of Arcigay, said:

"The wall erected mostly by the Vatican against civil rights in this country has fallen, so it is a historically and politically important moment."

Chiara Saraceno, a noted sociologist and former professor of sociology at the University of Turin, said that:

"The Italian population metabolized the recognition of same-sex couples some time ago." 4

Referring to a public opinion poll in 2009 she said that a "wide majority" of Italian adults favored access to either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. She added that lawmakers in the country:

"... have always lagged behind when it comes to family issues ... The Italian population is ready for this."

She attributes the delay by lawmakers to their traditionalist beliefs or out of fear of irritating the Roman Catholic Church.

Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, the Secretary-General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, called the vote "a defeat for everyone." 5

Massimo Gandolfini, chairperson of the Save our Children Committee, referred to the bill's passage: "the death of democracy." 5

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Michela Marzano of the Democratic Party, felt that the new law did not go far enough. She said:

“Italy remains a culturally backward country where the only possible family” ... [is still the traditional one]. It prefers to penalize children rather than recognize the multifaceted families that already exist."

President Sergio Mattarella is expected to sign the bill into law during the next month. 4 That would make Italy the last major Western country to establish some form of recognition of loving, committed same-sex relationships.

The first stage in the struggle for marriage equality has been won. If experiences in those U.S. states and other countries that had introduced civil unions is any indication, civil unions will only be the first step. The battle will continue until all couples, whether of the same sex or opposite sex, will be allowed to marry and enjoy the same status and civil rights.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Italy breaches rights over gay marriage - European court," BBC News, 2015-JUL-21, at:
  2. Crispian Balmer, "Italian Senate approves diluted civil union bill," Reuters, 2016-FEB-26, at:
  3. "Italy gay rights Senate backs watered-down civil union bill," BBC News, 2016-FEB-26, at:
  4. Elisabetta Povoledo, "Italy Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions," The New York Times, 2016-MAY-11, at:
  5. di Kay Wallace, "Vatican vexed as civil union bill passes," LaRepubblica, 2016-MAY-11, at:

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Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > SSM menu > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality> Same-sex marriage> SSM menu > here

Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-MAY-13
Latest update : 2016-MAY-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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