Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won a Senate confidence vote on a controversial bill that will allow same-sex civil unions in Italy, one of the last European Union states without such a provision.

Renzi won the vote in the upper house with 173 votes in favor and 71 votes against, after watering down the bill by removing a so-called “step-child adoption” clause allowing unmarried gay and heterosexual couples to request adoption of partners’ children.

The measure, which was heavily criticized by the Roman Catholic Church, was opposed by Renzi’s junior coalition partner and some members of his own Democratic Party. The legislation must still face a vote in the Parliament’s lower house, where Renzi has a broader majority.

The bill grants same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples some benefits including the right to take each other’s names and to inherit each other’s pensions, though it falls short of real marriage status. In order to further differentiate the unions from marriage, the amended bill also removed any reference to the need for faithfulness between partners.

The latest version of the bill was contested by gay-rights movements which staged a protest outside the Senate.

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