The legalisation of civil partnerships for homosexual couples will be debated on the floor of the Italian Senate by January at the latest, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has announced. His announcement follows fierce fighting over the matter as some City Mayors defied orders not to register foreign gay marriages on their books.
Renzi made the announcement on the Dominica Live TV program. “The timing? Immediately after the electoral reform,” he said, in reference to the long-awaited overhaul of the Italian electoral system, The Local has reported. He added that the proposal is likely to be modelled on German legislation, which allows for civil partnerships but stops short of calling union a marriage.
“The German law is a good reference point and allows people of the same sex to be given civil rights,” he said.
His announcement comes just one day after the Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino angered conservatives by registering 16 gay marriages carried out abroad. Registration of the couples took place at a ceremony carried out in the Town Hall on the Capitoline Hill, whilst across the river Tiber Catholic Bishops meeting at the Synod of the Family in Vatican City voted down a text calling for the recognition of the “precious support” that those in a homosexual partnership could offer one another.
The couples, both male and female, were surrounded by friends, family, and in some instances children as they walked up one after another to have their unions registered by Marino. The registrations were later annulled by the prefecture of Rome, as Italian law doesn’t recognise gay marriage.
Italy’s centre-right interior minister Angelino Alfano, who had previously issued a circular containing stern warnings to Mayors not to register couples, took to Facebook to write “we must remember that this is not possible under Italian law”. He has previously spoken of his opposition to the registrations, telling RTL radio earlier this month that “in Italy, same-sex marriage isn’t possible … so if people of the same sex get married, those marriages can’t be transcribed into the Italian State civil registries, for the simple fact that the law doesn’t allow it.”
A number of mayors of Italian cities have indicated their support for gay marriage registration, including those of Bologna, Milan, Pisa and Genoa. “If they want to cancel (them), let them, but not in the name of Bologna. I will not obey,” said Virginio Merola, Mayor of the northern city. “To send out a circular on questions that concern the daily life of so many people is not only bureaucratic but tragicomic,” he added. The mayor, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, has allowed registration for gay couples married abroad since mid-September.
The diocese of Rome, in its weekly review titled Roma Sette, criticised the mayor of Rome for his “ideological choice” and the “institutional affront” of registering the couples contrary to the law.