Italy Approves Civil Unions Bill

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Italy approved its civil union legislation on Wednesday by a vote of 372-51 with 99 abstentions.

Italy is the last major Western European nation with no law recognizing same-sex couples.

The Civil Unions bill first arrived in the Senate in February with fierce debates causing it to be watered down. The most controversial clause of the bill that would have allowed stepchild adoption, the right of a person to adopt their partner’s child, was dropped to ensure its passage. Instead, the bill proposed that the country will respect any court verdict recognizing a stepparent’s rights.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also had to employ a confidence vote and gamble his entire coalition to bypass the hundreds of amendments proposed by conservatives in Parliament. The bill was then sent to the Chamber of Deputies for its examination.

To avoid new delays, Renzi once again used a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies. The vote succeeded by a landslide and assured the public that the bill would be approved. Had either of Renzi’s confidence votes failed, new elections would have to be called.

Once the confidence vote was passed in Wednesday’s session, supporters of the law from around the country cheered. The final vote on the law itself saw more MPs in favor, but also many abstentions from those who were in favor of the law and were not keen on Renzi’s usage of confidence votes.

Since the bill was not changed when it traveled from one chamber of Parliament to the other, it will be sent for the Italian President’s signature.

President Sergio Mattarella has 30 days to sign or veto the bill.

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