Italy flagPost submitted by Yushuang Sun. Global Engagement Intern.

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced that the parliament will begin debating a bill on civil unions in September. The move would allow same-sex couples to register their unions, which would entitle them the same benefits of tax, inheritance, and welfare as opposite-sex couples.

It would also recognize the unions of same-sex couples who have wed broad. The proposal mirrors the United Kingdom’s and Germany’s civil partnership laws, but with no provision for same-sex adoption.

Prime Minister Renzi, who supported LGBT rights during last year’s election campaign, was quoted in La Repubblica: “Rights will be the same as those for married heterosexual couples.” 

Italy has been inching forward equality for its LGBT citizens. In April, an Italian court ordered a town to recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple who were wed in the United States. Last week the mayor of Rome, Iganzio Marino, opened the city’s annual Pride parade by repeating his campaign promise to pass legislation allowing civil unions for same-sex couples.

Despite some progress, Italy still has a long way to go. Although polls find that a majority of Italian support civil unions for LGBT couples, the country has lagged behind its European neighbors due to the resistance from the Catholic Church hierarchy. An anti-discrimination law that would protect individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has stalled in the parliament and adoption is not granted to same-sex couples.

LGBT Italians have been working on the ground leading up to the Synod on the family, which is set to take place in October 2014. Pope Francis called the synod to discuss the ever-changing values and issues of Catholics all over the world. Archbishop Italo Castellano of Italy expressed signed of support for the LGBT community by stating, “If all the flowers were the same, fields would lose their beauty.”

In early March, Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church might tolerate some forms of same-sex civil unions, but it is far too soon to tell whether he will truly usher for a lasting change. 

Filed under: International, Marriage

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