- Recognition of same-sex unions in Italy
Legal recognition of
Marriage Performed in some jurisdictions Recognized, not performed Civil unions and
Performed in some jurisdictions Unregistered cohabitation Recognized in some jurisdictions See also LGBT portal
Notwithstanding a long history of legislative proposals for civil unions, Italy does not recognize any type of same-sex unions. Several Regions have formally supported efforts for national law on civil unions and some municipalities have passed laws providing for civil unions. While some of these do provide real benefits they are mostly of symbolic value. Attempts by the Government of Romano Prodi in 2007 to introduce legislation failed after members of the governing coalition threatened division in opposition to the proposals. The Roman Catholic Church has been influential in blocking legislation. As of June 2011, Italy remains the only Western European member state of the European Union that not only does not recognize any form of same-sex unions but also does not hold any state-level debate concerning the topic.
In 1986 the Inter-parliamentary Women's Communist group and Arcigay (Italy's main gay rights organization), for the first time raised the issue of civil unions within the Italian parliament. This was led by Ersilia Salvato in the Italian Senate and by Romano Bianchi and Angela Bottari in the lower house who together attempted to introduce the idea of legislation. In 1988, following lobbying by Arcigay, Alma Cappiello Agate (lawyer and socialist parliamentarian) introduced the first bill in parliament (PdL N. 2340, Directive on the de facto family, 12 February 1988), calling for the acknowledgment of cohabitation between "persons". The bill failed, but Cappiello's proposal received wide coverage in the press (where some journalists spoke about second-class marriage), and acknowledged for the first time the possibility of homosexual unions.
During the 1990s a succession of civil union bills were regularly introduced and rejected in parliament, bolstered by discussion in the European Parliament on equal rights for homosexuals on marriage and adoption.
During the XIIIth parliamentary session, at least ten bills were presented (by Nichi Vendola, Luigi Manconi, Gloria Buffo, Ersilia Salvato, Graziano Cioni, Antonio Soda, Luciana Sbarbati, Antonio Lisi, Anna Maria De Luca, and Mauro Paissan). None of these ever made it to discussion on the floor of the house - not least due to the explicit influence and strident opposition of the Catholic hierarchy that was often behind the governing Christian democrat coalition, and intervened in political discussion.
In September 2003 the European Parliament approved a new resolution on human rights against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Each member state had to confirm it would work to abolish any form of discrimination - legislative or de facto. During the XIVth parliament political activity led by Franco Grillini debated proposals for PACs which found cross-sectional support.
Grillini introduced proceedings in parliament on 8 July 2002 based on legislation already existing in Denmark. However, the PACs principle was given particular resonance by the union on 21 October 2002 between Alessio De Giorgi and Christian Pierre Panicucci at the French Embassy in Rome. That day same Grillini introduced the bill in parliament; it ultimately failed but had been supported by 161 parliamentarians from the centre-left.
The Prodi II government
During the 2006 electoral campaign, the then leader of the opposition, Romano Prodi, promised to give legal rights to de-facto couples if elected. Mr. Prodi's left-of-centre coalition subsequently gained power and in February 2007 the government approved a draft bill to recognise domestic partnerships under the name DIritti e doveri delle persone stabilmente COnviventi (DICO) (English: Rights and duties of stable co-habitants). The bill proposed to give unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, health and social welfare benefits, and provide an entitlement to inherit after a couple has been living together for at least nine years. The bill faced considerable opposition from the Catholic Church, and in the Senate from the majority of the right-wing opposition and even from certain elements within Mr. Prodi's own fractious coalition. The bill was eventually stopped from reaching the floor for a conclusive vote.
Later in the year, the DICO bill was merged with other civil union proposals and the Senate's Judiciary Committee discussed a new draft known as Contratto di Unione Solidale (Solidary Union Contract). Nevertheless, in February 2008, an early election was called, thus dissolving the incumbent Parliament, and all pending legislation died in committee.
The Berlusconi IV government
Although the governing majority (The People of Freedom - Lega Nord) of the Berlusconi government was elected in May 2008 without promising any improvement for same-sex couples' rights, as of September 2008 some of their MPs (such as Renato Brunetta, Minister for Innovation and Public Administration, Lucio Barani and Francesco De Luca) have stated their intention of acting independently and submitting legislation to the Parliament. The new bill (act C.1756) is called DiDoRe (DIritti e DOveri di REciprocità dei conviventi, Mutual rights and duties for cohabiting partners). Such a proposal, if adopted, would be akin to "unregistered cohabitation", as it does not provide for a public registry system.
Same-sex marriage case
A same-sex couple from Venice sued the local administration for denying them a marriage license. In April 2009 the Tribunal of Venice sent the issue to the Constitutional Court, raising a possible conflict between the Civil Code, which does not allow for same-sex marriage, article 3 of the Italian Constitution, which forbids any kind of discrimination, and article 29, which states an ambiguous gender-neutral definition of marriage. The Constitutional Court ruled on April 14th 2010 that the statutory ban on same sex marriage is not a violation of the Constitution. 
Italian public opinion
According to a poll in February 2007, 67% of Italian Catholics backed the draft bill proposed by the Prodi coalition, and 80% of Italians said they supported the law. On the other hand, the Autumn 2006 Eurobarometer survey showed that only 31% of Italians thought that same-sex marriages should be allowed throughout Europe and 24% were in favour of opening up adoption to same-sex couples. This was below the European Union average of 44% and 32% respectively.
A Eurispes poll conducted in early 2009 showed that 40.4% of Italians supported same-sex civil marriage, while 18.5% supported civil unions but not marriage. Thus, 58.9% of respondents supported some form of recognition for same-sex couples. The only area with majority support for same-sex marriage was in the north-west (Piedmont and Liguria, where 54.8% were in favour of it. Nevertheless, in every Italian region except the islands, a majority supported some form of recognition for same-sex couples. Among those who consider themselves on the political left, 66.5% supported same-sex marriage. The same poll was repeated in January 2010. 41.0% of respondents now supported same-sex marriage, with 20.4% supporting civil unions. Thus, support for some form of recognition for same-sex couples rose to 61.4%.
Italians support for gay rights 2009 2010 YES YES recognition for same-sex couples 58.9% 61.4% same-sex marriage 40.4% 41% civil unions but not marriage 18.5% 20.4%
10 March 2007 saw a significant demonstration in Rome in favour of a same-sex law in order to avoid it being forfeited by Mr Prodi. Thousands of activists waved alarm clocks in the air, signalling it was high time for such a law. Some government officials (such as the Minister for Equal Opportunities, Barbara Pollastrini, and the Minister for Social Solidarity, Paolo Ferrero) took part in the demonstration and were later criticized by Mr Prodi for their participation.
On 12 March 2007 the Conference of Italian Bishops (CEI) staged a counter-demonstration in Rome against same-sex marriage. Police sources claim that about 800,000 people went to the demonstration, including some Catholic Government ministers such as Clemente Mastella and Giuseppe Fioroni.
On 16 June 2007, the yearly national Gay Pride was held in Rome and hit a record attendance of about 1,000,000 demonstrators. The Pride parade had a strong political flavour, as LGBT associations meant it to be a response to the opposition demonstrations.
Two Italian filmmakers, Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi, followed the whole discussion of the DICO law and made an award-winning documentary Suddenly, Last Winter (Improvvisamente l'inverno scorso).
Local civil union registries
As of 2009, 33 municipalities and cities throughout Italy have introduced civil union registries (registro delle unioni civili) which formally recognise same-sex couples. These registers mostly have a symbolic value and are not legally binding, even though in some cases they offer very limited local benefits. Major cities which offer civil union registries include Bologna, Padua, Florence, Pisa and Bolzano.
Furthermore, several regional governments have introduced symbolic registries for same-sex couples. These include:
Region Date of recognition Tuscany July 17, 2004 Umbria July 29, 2004 Emilia-Romagna September 14, 2004 Campania September 19, 2004 Marche December 6, 2004 Veneto March 1, 2005 Puglia December 9, 2005 Lazio December 14, 2005 Liguria March 16, 2006 Abruzzo April 20, 2006
- ^ a b "Italians clash on gay 'marriage'". BBC News. 14 January 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4612802.stm. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- ^ Smith, Peter J. (9 February 2007). "Italian Government Approves Bill to Recognize Civil Unions". LifeSiteNews.com. http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/feb/07020908.html. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- ^ "Head of Italy's bishops speaks against same-sex unions". GMax.co.za. 28 February 2007. http://www.gmax.co.za/look07/01/26-italy.html. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- ^ "Unioni Civili: 'DiDoRe' di Brunetta-Rotondi divide PdL" (in Italian). ANSA. 17 September 2008. http://www.ansa.it/opencms/export/site/notizie/rubriche/approfondimenti/visualizza_new.html_763238007.html. Retrieved 2008-11-28. [dead link]
- ^ "La corte costituzionale si pronuncerà sul matrimonio gay" (in Italian). gaynews.it. 20 April 2009. http://www.gaynews.it/view.php?ID=81354. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- ^ From corriere della Sera website 
- ^ Espera, Troy (19 February 2007). "Italian catholics say Vatican's same-sex marriage opposition goes too far". GMax.co.za. http://www.gmax.co.za/look07/02/19-italy.html. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- ^ "EB66" (PDF). Eurobarometer. December 2006. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb66/eb66_highlights_en.pdf. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
- ^ "Italiani più avanti della politica" (in Italian). Arcigay press release. 2009-06-12. http://www.arcigay.it/italiani-piu-avanti-della-politica.
- ^ Eurispes: More and more Italians want to gay unions Eurispes: sempre più Italiani vogliono le unioni gay Arcigay, Januari 29 2010
- ^ "Miles de personas exigen a Prodi en Roma que regule las parejas de hecho" (in Spanish). El Pais. 10 March 2007. http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/Miles/personas/exigen/Prodi/Roma/regule/parejas/hecho/elpepusoc/20070310elpepusoc_3/Tes. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- ^ ""Family Day" draws 1 million supporters of family, traditional marriage". EWTN. May 14, 2007. http://origin.ewtn.com/news/blog.asp?blogposts_ID=214&blog_ID=1.
- ^ "Gay Pride, Roma invasa: «Siamo un milione»" (in Italian). Corriere della Sera. 2007-06-17. http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Cronache/2007/06_Giugno/16/gay_pride_roma.shtml.
- ^  (special mention of the Panorama Jury at the 58th Berlin International Filmfestival, best documentary Idemfestival Cordoba, best documentary Bozner Filmtage, best documentary TLVfest, Tel Aviv)
- ^ Tutti Registri delle Unioni Civili (in Italian), Arcigay
- Disegno di legge S.1339 - Trattazione in Commissione Giustizia.
- Disciplina del patto civile di solidarietà e delle unioni di fatto (3296).
- Disposizioni in materia di istituzione del Registro delle unioni civili di coppie dello stesso sesso o di sesso diverso e di possibilità per le persone dello stesso sesso di accedere all'istituto del matrimonio (2982)
- Un Pacs avanti. Website of the "National campaign for the Pacs".
- Liff. Website of the Lega italiana famiglie di fatto.
- Proposta di legge di Franco Grillini ed altri del Patto civile di solidarietà e Unioni di fatto, 20 October 2002. Never discussed in the Italian Parliament.
- Unioni civili, il Pdl si spacca, 17.09.2008. New Civil Unions (DiDoRe) bill.
- Sarà il centrodestra a dare una normativa alle unioni civili comprese le coppie Lgbt? Pare di si 7.09.2008
- Text of Act C.1756 - DiDoRe 2008-11-28
Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe Sovereign
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
States with limited
- Northern Cyprus
- South Ossetia
- European Union
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