Following a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that the country was violating some of its citizens’ human rights with their failure to legally recognise homosexual relationships, the Italian Senate began looking at legislation in 2013 that would address the issue. The Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex unions last year (in 2015), and a few days ago, the lower house of the parliament passed the Senate bill, legalizing same-sex unions in Italy.
The new law grants same-sex couples many of the same rights as married couples—the possibility to have the same last name, inheritance, hospital visitation, and medical decision-making rights. But the bill stops short of same-sex marriage. Due to pressure from conservatives, the government was also forced to make concessions on the bill by dropping a stepchild-adoption provision. Social conservatives and Catholics were wary that such a step would open the road towards legalizing surrogate motherhood, which remains illegal in Italy.
Wednesday’s Italian Parliament vote was 372 to 51, with 99 abstentions.
Amidst the celebration of the European Union’s completion of same-sex legalization unity, much credit must be given to Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, who despite heavy opposition from the Vatican and conservative factions was willing to go so far as to place his own job in jeopardy by threatening to call a vote of confidence for his party’s government. In the end, no such vote of confidence was necessary, as compromise was achieved that helped get the legislation passed. Still, the LGBT community can be grateful for heroes like Renzi, who are willing to go the distance and make sacrifices for the equality and benefit of all citizens, not just a portion of them. Salut! Cheers to Renzi! Congratulations to Italy!