By Jennifer Goetz
Nation & World Editor
It’s taken months, but according to the New York Times, Italy’s Senate approved the first-ever law accepting civil unions on Thursday, Feb. 25. However, there was no mention of same-sex couples’ legal rights to adopt any children.
The bill, which passed 173 to 71, originally included the “stepchild” clause, but it faced strong opposition from center-right parties and by the Catholic Church, according to the New York Times. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi agreed to eradicate this clause to ensure that the bill would pass.
The Guardian reported that Interior Minister Angelo Alfano was strictly against the stepchild provision, but ultimately backed the bill after it was taken out. Some parties in the Senate would not have voted to pass the bill if the stepchild clause was included, according to the Associated Press.
Even if one of the parents had the children biologically, the other partner couldn’t adopt them.
“Between ‘everything never’ and ‘nothing today,’ it’s better to do a little piece now,” Renzi said about family law reforms in a radio interview with the Associated Press. He expects that this bill is the first step to real change for same-sex couples in Italy. According to the Guardian, this was the first significant win for gay rights in Italy’s history.
The bill is now set to go to the lower house in Parliament where it will be either passed or denied in upcoming weeks, even though the outcome appears to be favorable, according to the New York Times.
According to BBC, Italy is currently the only country in Western Europe with no civil partnerships or gay marriage. Last year, the European Court of Human rights decided that Italy had violated same-sex couples human rights by not allowing them to have legal protection. Thousands of people came out to march in cities across the country last year to support same sex couple rights.
Even though many believe this bill is a step in the right direction, not everyone shares this optimistic outlook. As president of Italy’s Rainbow Families, which is an LGBT parent’s association, Marilena Grassadonia told the New York Times during a phone interview that this is “a useless and empty law — they can scrap it.” Grassadonia went on to speak for her organization, “as parents, we challenge anyone to accept a law that hurts our dignity and our children.”
Aside from recognizing the civil union of same-sex couples, the New York Times reported that it also gives civil rights to unmarried couples. These civil unions are expected to have the same rights married couples have.