Italy Celebrates First Civil Union

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Last May, Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, promulgated the Civil Union bill and it was published as law in the country’s Official Gazette the following day.

The first civil union was celebrated by two men in Lugo on Sunday despite the government not issuing the pending administrative orders yet.

Since the bill’s approval, opponents of the legislation have threatened a referendum to repeal it. While adoption rights remain controversial with many Italians and within the Italian Senate, as witnessed by the removal of a stepchild adoption clause during parliamentary debates, civil unions themselves are widely accepted by the public according to annual polls.

The Senate’s removal of the clause granting some adoption rights was replaced with one stating that the Italian Government would respect court orders on the subject of parental rights.

This will function as a first step, as throughout the years, many verdicts regarding same-sex adoption have been successful in different courts around the country.

verdict delivered last week from Italy’s Court of Cassation allowed a woman in a same-sex relationship to adopt her partner’s child. The court’s decision did not legalize stepchild adoption, but will instead allow lower court judges to borrow from the court’s ruling on a case by case basis.

This halfway step from the judiciary was cheered by activists, but also served as a reminder that a law to automatically grant the right to stepchild adoption must still be passed through the Legislature in the future.

A separate bill to allow stepchild adoption was proposed in Parliament earlier this year, but may prove difficult to pass as seen by this spring’s events.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Italy, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Italy

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Final Vote on Italy’s Civil Unions Scheduled for Next Week

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Italy’s days as the last major Western European country not to afford same-sex couples legal recognition may soon be over next week.

According to The Local, the debate on Italy’s Civil Unions bill will begin on May 9th and end on the 12th with the final vote expected that Thursday.

The bill was approved in the Senate in February after fierce debates and a deluge of proposed amendments from conservative wings of Parliament. To overcome the flood of amendments, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had to employ a confidence vote, a measure that gambles his entire coalition, to be able to pass to the next round. Had his motion failed, new parliamentary elections would have been called.

Though Renzi has more allies in the Chamber, the Prime Minister said that another confidence vote will be called.

Stepchild adoption, the right of a person to adopt their partner’s child, was dropped to assure the bill’s passage and replaced with a clause that would respect a court’s decision to have the stepparents recognized if they won a case.

LGBT rights groups are unhappy with the current bill’s lack of stepchild adoption rights, but several MPs have revealed that a separate bill is in the works.

If the Civil Unions bill is approved as is in the Chamber of Deputies, it will be sent to the President for his signature.

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.

Italy’s Prime Minister Relents on Adoption Rights within the Civil Unions Bill

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Prime Minister Renzi has asked his coalition to remove all the provisions of the Civil Unions Bill mentioning adoption rights.

The stepchild adoption clause, which would have given same-sex couples the right to adopt their partner’s biological child, has been the most controversial part of the bill since it was submitted two years ago. Parliamentary rivals and even some members of Renzi’s own circle were not keen on the idea of stepchild adoption and disagreement inside the Senate led to a standstill.

Italy is the last major nation in Western Europe without any legal recognition for gay couples and Renzi defended his move to drop the adoption clause on a radio interview by stating, “Between ‘everything never’ and ‘nothing today,’ it’s better to do a little piece now” regarding the family law reforms. Since his announcement, LGBT rights groups have expressed their disappointment with some claiming they feel betrayed.

The Prime Minister hopes to have the new, watered-down version of the Civil Unions Bill passed in the Senate by Friday so it can advance to the Chamber of Deputies where a larger left-leaning majority resides. However, getting the bill out of the Senate may require a confidence vote, a risky move that would equal new Parliamentary elections if it is unsuccessful. Although polls show that Renzi’s party would come out victorious if an election was held now, holding new elections would cause the bill to lapse and require the Government to start all over again.

For more information the LGBT right’s situation in Italy, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Italy

#IVoteYes: Social Media Outrage Turns Up the Heat in Italy’s Senate

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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.

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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