• Italy was among the last EU states without such a measure
  • Church, Catholic wing in Renzi's party among law's critics

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi succeeded in pushing through legal recognition for homosexual couples in Roman Catholic Italy, which had been among the last European Union states without such a provision.

QuickTake Gay Rights

The lower house backed the bill, with 372 votes in favor and 51 against, in a definitive vote on the law allowing same-sex civil unions. Earlier on Wednesday, Renzi won a vote of confidence in his government to help obtain parliamentary approval for the contested measure.

Renzi won over the New Center Right party, a coalition member, after dropping a clause that would have allowed unmarried gay couples to request adoption of partners’ children. A Catholic wing in Renzi’s own Democratic party had also objected to the measure, which was approved by the Senate in February.

Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference, said on the eve of the vote that it was “a defeat for everyone.” Alfio Marchini, a center-right candidate for Rome mayor running in elections next month, said he would not celebrate homosexual unions in the capital.

In a message on Facebook before the votes, Renzi wrote that “laws are made for people, not for ideologies.” He said the government had called a confidence vote “because further delays are not possible after years of failed attempts.”

The law 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 law also removed any reference to the need for faithfulness between partners.

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