Recognition of same-sex unions in Italy
|Legal recognition of
|† Not yet in effect|
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.
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 14, 2010 that the statutory ban on same sex marriage is not a violation of the Constitution.
Recent judicial developments 
On 19 January 2011 the Court of Cassation reversed a lower decision which stated that an EU citizen married to an Italian citizen of the same-sex can't stay in Italy, because they were not a family according to Italian laws. The High Court ruled that the lower judge should have applied the European Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of the citizens of the Union to move and reside freely within the Member States. In a landmark ruling the Court of Cassation stated on March 15, 2012 that 'same-sex couples have the same right to a family life as married straight couples', adding that 'the judiciary shall grant them the same legal rights as enjoyed under marriage on a case-by-case rule'. Even though the Court's judgments are not binding outside the case decided, lower courts find those judgments persuasive. Whereas the Parliament remains free to introduce same-sex unions or not, the verdict paves the way for such unions to be equivalent to marriage in all but name and for judges to recognize individual rights to cohabiting couples. The first right was won by a couple made by an Italian man who married an Uruguayan citizen in Spain. Marriages celebrated abroad will now allow the non-EU national partner to obtain an Italian permanent residence permit.
In May 2013 an italian judge registered an English Civil partnership contracted by two italian men. The registration occurred in Milan and the male couple was registered in the local Civil union register approved in 2012. 
Recent political developments 
In May 2012, the Italy of Values political party (Italia dei Valori) became the first party to announce publily that it would push for marriage equality. The party leader, Antonio Di Pietro said, "Our party has been the first in Italy to follow US president Barack Obama. We invite other Italian parties to support gay marriage. You don’t have to be shy, you have to say yes".
In July 2012, the Democratic Party (Italy) approved its platform on Civil Rights, including the recognition of same-sex unions. The secular wing of the party tried to get a vote on its motion on marriage equality, but it was stopped by the Civil Rights board. The following day of the meeting in Rome, the leader of Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, criticised the event and came out in favour of Marriage Equality.
On May 14, 2013, Italian Parliament extended healthcare benefits to same-sex partners. This rule was already in effect for heterosexual partners for decades.
2013 general election 
This table sums up the political promises made on LGBT issues
|Political party||Last poll||Marriage||Civil Union||Certain Rights||Adoption||Parental Rights||IVF||Hate speech Law|
|Democratic Party (Italy)||33,1%||(Stepchild adoption)|
|The People of Freedom||17,8%|
|Five Star Movement||12,8%||-||-||-||-|
|With Monti for Italy||11%||-||-||-||-||-|
|Left Ecology Freedom||4,8%||-|
Letta Government 
On 28 April 2013 the Letta Government, a grand coalition cabinet, was formed by some members from PD, PdL and SC. Only the Democratic Party pledged its support to same-sex relationship recognition during the political campaign.
Churches views 
- Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest and the most influential Christian denomination in Italy.
- Waldensian Evangelical Church
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%.
On the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia on 17 May 2012 the National Bureau of Statistics (ISTAT) released an official report commissioned by the Government on the attitudes towards homosexuality in the Italian population. The poll, conducted in 2011, found that 62.8% of the interviewees are in favour of civil unions with the same rights as marriage. Those who agree with same-sex marriage increased to 43.9% with Central Italy (52.6%), 18–34 years old (53.4%) and women (47%) being the geographical, age and gender categories most in favour. Significantly, every region supported civil unions, with support being highest in Central Italy (72.2%) and lowest in the South and Islands (51.2%).
|Italians support for gay rights||2009||2010||2012|
|recognition for same-sex couples||58.9%||61.4%||62.8%|
|civil unions but not marriage||18.5%||20.4%||18.9%|
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 2013, 150 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, Bolzano, Palermo, Naples, Milan and Genoa.
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|
In July 2012, Mayor Giuliano Pisapia, promised to introduce a formal register of gay civil unions for the city of Milan (the largest city in Northern Italy), and which would be designed to afford some legal protections to gay couples who cohabit, but these would not be equivalent to marriage rights. A spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Milan responded by arguing there was a "risk that giving equal status to families based on marriage with those founded on civil unions will legitimise polygamy". On July 27, 2012 the Town Council approved the Register of Civil Unions in 29-7 vote.
See also 
- "Italians clash on gay 'marriage'". BBC News. 14 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- Smith, Peter J. (9 February 2007). "Italian Government Approves Bill to Recognize Civil Unions". LifeSiteNews.com. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Head of Italy's bishops speaks against same-sex unions". GMax.co.za. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Unioni Civili: 'DiDoRe' di Brunetta-Rotondi divide PdL" (in Italian). ANSA. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.[dead link]
- "La corte costituzionale si pronuncerà sul matrimonio gay" (in Italian). gaynews.it. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- From Corriere della Sera website
- "Cassazione: "I gay hanno diritto a trattamento familiare come le coppie sposate"" (in Italian). www.ilfattoquotidiano.it. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- "Italy court rules gays have right to 'family life'". AFP. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- "Uruguayano sposato con italiano ottiene permesso di soggiorno" (in Italian). www.repubblica.it. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Espera, Troy (19 February 2007). "Italian catholics say Vatican's same-sex marriage opposition goes too far". GMax.co.za. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "EB66" (PDF). Eurobarometer. December 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
- "Italiani più avanti della politica". Arcigay press release (in Italian). 2009-06-12.
- Eurispes: More and more Italians want to gay unions Eurispes: sempre più Italiani vogliono le unioni gay Arcigay, January 29, 2010
- La popolazione omosessuale nella società italiana Istat, May 17, 2012
- "Miles de personas exigen a Prodi en Roma que regule las parejas de hecho". El País (in Spanish). 10 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- ""Family Day" draws 1 million supporters of family, traditional marriage". EWTN. May 14, 2007.
- "Gay Pride, Roma invasa: "Siamo un milione"". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 2007-06-17.
-  (special mention of the Panorama Jury at the 58th Berlin International Filmfestival, best documentary Idemfestival Córdoba, best documentary Bozner Filmtage, best documentary TLVfest, Tel Aviv)
- 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