The Italian parliament finally today legalized civil unions—including between people of the same sex. The law, which passed with a majority of 372 to 51 in the chamber of deputies, makes Italy the last country in western Europe to provide a legal framework for same-sex couples.
The path to this law has been especially hard, and the government resorted to a vote of confidence to it. While the majority of Italians supports the decision, the opposition from conservative parties has been strong, and there have been rallies to protest against gay rights. Commenting on the law, a spokesperson for the assembly of Italian bishops has called it “a loss for everyone” (link in Italian).
While this is significant, Italy still has a long way to go. To begin with, the law approved today fails to recognize the right to adopt a gay partner’s children, or to adopt children at all.
The legalized partnership doesn’t technically hold the status of marriage, though it extends to civil unions many of the rights of marriage. That distinction was a concession to those who claim marriage can only be between a man and a woman.