In a historic vote that approved a Civil Unions bill in Italy yesterday (Feb 25) the Senate voted 173 to 71 in favour. The bill, which was backed by Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, will still need to go through the lower house to become law.
However, the bill approved by the Senate was not the bill as originally presented, as the adoption rights provision and other clauses were removed, and gay activists are not happy.
Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, who has said it was a “Victory For Love” sees the passing of the bill by the Senate as historic, having had to do battle with members of his own government and the Catholic Church in Italy, who are against any type of same-sex union recognition.
One of the main sticking points was the issue of adoption rights, which would have allowed a same-sex partner to adopt their partner’s child. This provision, however, was taken out of the bill in order to have it approved.
Monica Cirinna, of the Democratic Party, who helped write the legislation, said:
“Today opens a new page of family law” and that it was a historic day for Italy, going “from family law to the right of families”.
“It’s a win with a hole in its heart. We are halfway up the stairs”.
The lower chamber now needs to approve the bill, but this is not seen as a problem, as Mr. Renzi’s party has the majority there.
After the vote, Mr Renzi wrote on facebook:
“What counts this evening is that many Italian citizens will feel less alone, and more part of a community. Hope won against fear. Courage won against discrimination. It’s a victory for love”.
The right-wing parties were angry that the bill had been approved by the Senate, declaring that anyone who voted for the legislation would go to hell.
LGBTI associations, under umbrella organisation, ‘Movement LGBTI’, were also angry at the altered bill, and said that the bill ignored the existence and needs of the sons and daughters of homosexual couples. They stated:
“Pontius Pilate could not have done better”. [..] “Now our battle [..] will continue in the streets and in the courts”.
Some of Renzi’s party colleagues, like Luigi Manconi, did not vote with the Democratic Party on the issue of civil unions for various reasons. Manconi was annoyed that the adoption rights provision was taken out of the bill.
In another first for Mr Renzi, he had attended the opening of Milan Fashion Week the day before, the first Prime Minister to do so, and spoke about the upcoming vote on civil unions. He stated:
“[..] I am really confident we can achieve a result…If we lose, we lose everything – but I am confident”. In the event, his confidence was justified, but at a price.
He told the fashion gathering that it was important to invest in Italy, but also to invest in human rights and human values.
Renzi feels that he did just that in the Senate when the bill was approved. He said on facebook that he felt he had expanded people’s rights without doing harm to anyone, and that Italy is stronger because of it.
The bill is likely to go before the Chamber of Deputies within the month, and if passed, will become law in April of this year.