Italy’s Parliament on Tuesday approved a rule which will allow gay MPs to extend their healthcare benefits to their partners.

The decision to extend the benefits follows a request by centre-left Democratic Party MP Ivan Scalfarotto, reports Ansa. It was described as “very positive” by left-wing deputy Alessandro Zan, who said it “annuls an unjustified discrimination in regards to gay and lesbian parliamentarians who request it”.

Zan went further to call for the wide application of the same principle to all same-sex couples in Italy, saying that it should not be limited just to government employment.

“This is an important decision because it sanctions a principle of equality. That same principle which has to be extended to everyone and which explains why it is urgent to have laws on gay couples,” Zan said.

“This right can’t be only a privilege for MPs. There are many gay and lesbian couples who are waiting for rights” he continued.

Other politicians, such as Sergio Lo Giudice, a Senator, agreed that the benefits should be made law across Italy.

He said: “Now I expect that the same will happen in the Senate, where I requested that my health coverage be extended also to my husband Michele.

“Today’s decision has to become a reference point for the approval of a law which recognizes equal rights to same-sex couples, as requested to the Parliament by the Constitutional Court”.

The issue was already put before Parliament by then MP Anna Paola Concia, but a decision on it was never reached.

On Monday, a candidate to become mayor of Rome on Monday promised that he would issue same-sex civil unions in the city, if he is elected.

Italy does not currently legally recognise any kind of same-sex unions.

The gay governor of Italy’s Puglia region, Nichi Vendola, recently said that he is afraid to go out alone at night in Rome. 

The openly gay Italian Governor also said that he would like to have the “right” to get married to his partner in front of his “community and family.”

Last week, less than 24 hours after being sworn in as a member of Italy’s new coalition government, a junior equalities minister was removed from her post for saying that gay people invite discrimination by “ghettoising” themselves.