Current Affairs

Council of Europe urges Italy to pass bill to legalise gay civil unions

Joseph McCormick January 26, 2016
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Hands wedding rings

A same-sex wedding. (TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Council of Europe has advised Italy to pass a bill to legalise same-sex civil unions.

The Council’s Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, on Tuesday said Italy should pass the bill, currently being debated in the country’s Senate.

Jagland tweeted: “I encourage Italy to ensure legal recognition for same sex couples as per [European Court of Human Rights] as in majority of [Council of Europe] states.”

Both supporters and opponents of measures to legalise same-sex civil unions in the mainly Catholic country, have prepared to protest in the streets.

The bill for civil unions, introduced by Premier Matteo Renzi’s Government, will be debated on 28 January in the Senate.

Although it faces fierce opposition in the Catholic country, it is expected to pass.

However supporters of measures for civil unions or same-sex marriage, say they fear amendments will be added to sabotage or water down the legislation.

Italy remains as the last Western European country which has no legal recognition for cohabiting same-sex couples.

Justice Minister Andrea Orlando has said Italy must introduce same-sex civil unions to be compliant with the Strasbourg court.

Nearly a hundred towns reported planned protests across Italy for Saturday.

Some same-sex marriage supporters said the civil unions bill was the “bare minimum” for Italy.

Those behind the demonstrations for civil unions, under the slogan”Wake Up Italy! It is time to be civil”, said they did not want to cause a huge ruckus with the protests, but that they mainly wanted to go and meet people in the streets.

The opponents, however, do want to cause a stir.

Anti-gay rights demonstrations, including one named a “Family Day”, will take place in places like Rome’s Circus Maximus in the coming week.

Amid a debate around same-sex civil unions in the country, a group a senators proposed prison sentences for gay couples who use overseas surrogates.

Catholic senators from the ruling Democratic Party tabled the amendment to a draft bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

The demonstrations are reminiscent of those that took place in France in 2014, leading up to a vote which eventually legalised same-sex marriage.

The protests, sometimes violent, saw tens of thousands, both for and against the law, take to the streets.


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