Italian Senate Approves Civil Unions Bill, Government Mulls Adoption Law

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Italy’s Senate voted 173-71 last Friday in favor of a civil unions bill for same-sex couples.

The bill was submitted in 2014, but conservative parties attempted to hold up the process with a cascade of amendments. The most controversial clause of the bill would have granted stepchild adoption rights, or the ability for a gay person to adopt their partner’s biological child. Unfortunately, many in the opposition and even some in Prime Minister Renzi’s own coalition were uneasy about this clause and it was scrapped to ensure the bill’s passage. The Government instead inserted a clause stating that parents can use court intervention to recognize their parental rights as several judges around the country have already ruled for gay stepparents.

The next move for the Prime Minister was to get out of the amendments stage. M5S, the second-largest party in the Senate, proclaimed that they would not join the Prime Minister’s plan to use a maneuver to skip the amendment round so the pressure mounted on Renzi and he decided to gamble his entire coalition to achieve a confidence vote which allowed the bill to reach the Chamber of Deputies. Had Renzi’s confidence vote not prevailed, new Parliamentary elections would have been held. The result was a landslide victory in the Senate with M5S boycotting the voting process despite the bulk of the party having voiced its support for both civil unions and stepchild adoption.

The bill now heads to the Chamber of Deputies which is more liberal and the media predicts an easy passage. Many expect the next vote to be held in April, and if the bill is approved without any amendments, it would go directly from the Chamber to the President for his promulgation. The Civil Union Bill will become law following publication in the country’s Official Gazette.

After the Senate round was done last week, LGBT activists announced their dismay and disappointment for the lack of adoption rights, although, according to a top member of Parliament, the Government is planning a separate adoption bill for singles and gay couples.

Stay tuned.

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