When the Italian Senate – the upper house – approved a civil unions bill, Roberto de Mattei, above, historian and Catholic hardliner, wrote that ‘the approval of homosexual pseudo-marriage in the Senate … is the last stage in the process of dissolution of Italian society which began with the introduction of divorce (1970), then the legalisation of abortion (1978) and has as its next, imminent step, the legalisation of euthanasia.’
But despite voices such as his railing against the Senate vote earlier this year, Italy’s parliament yesterday backed same-sex civil unions in a vote of confidence for centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Until Wednesday’s vote Italy had been the last major Western democracy not to legally recognise gay partnerships. MPs in the lower house voted 369-193 for the government, ensuring that the civil unions bill will become law.
Ahead of the vote, Mr Renzi wrote on Facebook that:
Today is a day of celebration for so many.
After many delays the civil unions bill was watered down in order to secure the necessary support.
The civil unions bill:
• Does not go as far as civil union laws elsewhere in Europe, the US and Canada, critics say
• A clause that would have enabled gay people to adopt a partner’s biological children was dropped
• There is no blanket ban on adoption, but family judges will decide on a case-by-case basis
• Requirement for gay couples to pledge loyalty was dropped to make a civil union less like marriage
• Gay couples get the right to take each other’s names and receive deceased partner’s pension
De Mattei, in hss blast against the Senate, wrote of the bill:
[It is] iniquitous and unacceptable, not only as it introduces homosexual pseudo-matrimony, but also because it gives rights to homosexuals for being homosexual. According to Catholic doctrine, but even before that, the natural law, homosexuality, or sodomy, is a vice that subverts the principles of the moral order.
The law approved by the Senate is a serious defeat for all Catholics.
In 2013 de Mattei sparked a furious row when he claimed that the Roman Empire collapsed because a “contagion of homosexuality and effeminacy” made it easy pickings for barbarian hordes.
Among other opponents was Nunzio Galantino, Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), who called the civil unions bill:
A defeat for everyone.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy had violated human rights by failing to offer enough legal protection for same-sex couples.
The bill’s main sponsor, Democratic Party (PD) Senator Monica Cirinna, called the compromise version a “hollow victory” and only “a first step”.
And the head of the Italian Arcigay campaign group, Gabriele Piazzoni, said:
The glass is half full.
He said the text contains the recognition and protection many gays and lesbians have been waiting for all their lives but that that the omissions from the law “leave a bitter taste”.
In a Facebook post, published before the confidence vote, Renzi spoke fondly of a party colleague, Alessia Ballini, who died of cancer aged 41. While serving in Renzi’s Florence administration, before he became Prime Minister, she campaigned for gay rights and against homophobia.
In these crucial hours I keep close to my heart the thought and memory of Alessia. And that’s enough for me. Because laws are made for people, not for ideologies. For those who love, not for those who make declarations. Let’s write another important page for the Italy that we want.
Meanwhile, it is reported from Germany that the country is set to annul the convictions of gay men under a law criminalising homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-war Germany.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas is to overturn the convictions and create a “right to compensation”.
About 50,000 men were convicted between 1946 and 1969, under a 19th-Century law that the Nazis had sharpened.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1969, but the legislation was not taken off the books entirely until 1994.
We will never be able to eliminate completely these outrages by the state, but we want to rehabilitate the victims. The homosexual men who were convicted should no longer have to live with the taint of conviction.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn