The Italian parliament on 11 May 2016 passed legislation legalizing same-sex civil unions, with 372 voting in favour, 51 against and 99 abstaining. With this, it has become the last country in Western Europe to do so.
The bill to this effect was approved by the Senate on 25 February 2016 and the Chamber of Deputies on 11 May 2016. However, the bill has yet to be signed into law by the Italian President.
Key highlights of the bill
• The new law grants same-sex couples many of the same rights as married heterosexual couples.
• Partners in a civil union can apply for public housing as couples. The law also makes this right available to unmarried heterosexual couples.
• The same-sex couples can also inherit their partners’ pensions. Property inheritance rules will be the same as for married couples.
• During a protest on 13 January 2007, 50000 gay rights activists protested in Milan in favour of the creation of a new law regulating same-sex unions.
• According to a poll conducted in February 2007, 67% of Italian Catholics backed the draft bill proposed by the Prodi coalition, and 80% of Italians said they supported the law.
• On the other hand, the Autumn 2006 Eurobarometer survey showed that only 31% of Italians thought that same-sex marriages should be allowed throughout Europe.
• A Eurispes poll conducted in early 2009 showed that 40.4% of Italians supported same-sex civil marriage, while 18.5% supported civil unions but not marriage.
• On 15 December 2013, the newly elected secretary of the Democratic Party, Matteo Renzi announced that the party will work on the recognition of same-sex relationships. Renzi subsequently became Italian Prime Minister in February 2014.
• Later, the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the Judgment 138/2010 of the Constitutional Court, by stating that opening marriage to same-sex couples was not unconstitutional nor was a constitutional right, but a Parliament decision only, as well as introducing Civil Unions or Civil Partnerships.
• On 10 June 2015, the Chamber of Deputies, which is the lower house of the Italian Parliament, passed a motion that obliged the government to approve a bill regarding civil unions between persons of the same-sex.
• On 21 July 2015, the European Court of Human Rights, in the case Oliari and Others v. Italy, ruled that Italy violates the European Convention on Human Rights by not recognizing same-sex couples' right to family life.
• On 7 October 2015, a bill which would establish same-sex civil unions and gender-neutral cohabitation agreements was submitted to parliament. It had its first reading in the Senate on 14 October 2015.
• In January 2016, a poll showed that 46% were in favour and 40% against civil unions for same sex couples. With regards to same-sex marriage, 38% were in favour and the majority of 55% were against. Finally, 85% of those polled were against adoption by same-sex couples.
• On 25 February 2016, the bill was approved by the Italian Senate in a 173-71 vote.
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