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Rome defies ban to register gay civil unions

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A woman celebrates Gay Pride in Rome. Gay Pride photo: Shutterstock
12:30 CET+01:00
Councillors in Rome have agreed to start registering gay civil unions, despite same-sex relationships having no legal status in Italy.

Applause erupted at Rome city hall as councillors voted in favour of opening a civil union register on Thursday, while one gay couple greeted the news with a kiss.

Heart-shaped balloons were released outside after the motion passed with 32 votes in favour, ten opposed and one abstention.

The long-awaited move was welcomed by Marino as aligning the Italian capital with European countries that already recognize gay unions.

“Today the capital of Italy gives a signal that, in this city, love is equal for everyone,” the mayor said in an online statement.

A spokesman for city hall was not immediately available to clarify whether same-sex couples will be afford greater rights under the measure.

The local-level decision stands at odds with national legislation, which provides no legal framework for gay unions.

“A lot of Italian administrations, today, are waiting for a national law that finally ratifies equal rights for everyone in the face of love,” Marino noted.

The Italian government last year promised to begin discussing legalizing civil partnerships, but the debate is yet to make it to parliament. As a result, a number of Italian mayors have decided to take matters into their own hands.

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Marino and others last year registered the gay marriages of citizens conducted abroad, a move fiercely criticized by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

Despite orders from Alfano to have the registrations cancelled, with little momentum at the national level Marino remained determined to drive change from city hall. 

“By its example, Rome hopes it can contribute to break through the indecision of legislators that, for already too many years, has avoided full recognition of legal and civil rights or all couples, independent of their sexual orientation,” he said.

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