When a February 6th article appeared in the online newspaper of the Italian Senate’s second-largest Opposition group, Five Star Movement or M5S for short, declaring that the party would use a conscience vote on the stepchild adoption clause of the pending Civil Unions bill, it sent the online world into a frenzy and caused several members of Parliament to reassure a ‘Yes’ vote.
As shown on this map (courtesy of Wikipedia), Italy is the last major nation in Western Europe that does not recognize gay couples. The stepchild adoption clause, which allows a person to adopt their partner’s child, has been the most talked about part of the civil union legislation with many predicting it to cause the vote to be tight as several members of the ruling coalition are already opposed to the idea. The conscience vote, an option that allows a person to vote in any direction and not incur their party’s wrath, was seen by many as a risk to the bill and M5S was accused of backtracking.
The Five Star party bore the brunt of the sudden outrage following the newsletter post and #dietrofrontM5S (About-face M5S) became the top-trending tag on Twitter in Italy. Immediately following the public’s furor, M5S MPs in the Senate began to publicly announce their support for stepchild adoption.
According to gay.it, as of February 8th, at least 30 of the Senate’s 35 M5S members have so far announced a vote in favor of the stepchild clause since the twitter debacle.
When asked about the debacle, Matteo Renzi, Italy’s Prime Minister, said that he would not give up on the adoption clause. Renzi was quoted as saying “I will bring home stepchild adoption. It will tough, but not impossible”.
The M5S newspaper published a follow-up article on February 7th stressing that it will vote Yes on Civil Unions while defending its position to allow a conscience vote regarding adoption rights.
Italy’s Civil Unions bill passed the first hurdle last Monday and the Senate will continue its debate during the amendments round this week.
For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Italy, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Italy