Italy’s Senate begins debate on civil unions bill
The Italian Senate has begun debating a bill to legalise same-sex civil unions.
Both supporters and opponents of measures to legalise same-sex civil unions in the mainly Catholic country, have protested in the streets.
The bill for civil unions, introduced by Premier Matteo Renzi’s Government began being debated today in the Senate.
Italy’s Parliament is expected to vote on the measure by next Tuesday.
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.
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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.