A vote will soon decide whether the last country in Western Europe that doesn’t recognize same-sex unions stays that way

Love is love—even in Milan.
Love is love—even in Milan.
Image: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
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After Greece passed a law recognizing same-sex partnerships late last year, Italy became the sole country in Western Europe that still doesn’t recognize these unions. But this might not last: on Jan. 28, the Italian senate is scheduled to debate a bill that would recognize same-sex partnerships.

Conservative politicians in the deeply Catholic country are up in arms—and so is Pope Francis, who has declared that “there can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union.” To protest the potential passage of a law, a rally dubbed “Family Day” has been planned in Rome for Jan. 30 by a committee called Difendiamo i Nostri Figli (Let’s protect our kids). It is expected to attract big crowds, and has the support of a number of politicians committed to defending what they consider the “traditional” family setup.

Activists in favor of same-sex rights organized their own rallies on Jan. 23, under the banner of ”Svegliati Italia“ (wake up Italy). Tens of thousands of supporters took to the streets across the country, reflecting the 53% Italians who—according to polls (link in Italian)—support the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

In a country where the Catholic church still holds sway over voters, many politicians—including those who support the law—are keeping quiet on the matter (the senate vote will be held by secret ballot). Prime minister Matteo Renzi has not commented on the rallies, and even leftwing supporters of the law are quick to note that it would stop short of recognizing same-sex marriage (link in Italian).