The Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando has said his country must introduce same-sex civil unions.

Orlando said Italy must meet the demands of Strasbourg courts that it must legally recognise the relationships of same-sex couples.

He said “an intervention is necessary, it’s a fact we have to face.”

A bill has been drafted by Premier Matteo Renzi’s government which would extend civil unions to same-sex couples.

However the bill has found staunch opposition, including by the Catholic Church.

In particular arguments against surrogacy, which some say will be legalised if adoption is allowed as part of the legislation.

Renzi has said MPs should be able to vote with their conscience on the bill which has been delayed for a long time.

Supporters of the bill reject suggestion that it breaches the Italian constitution.