Italian university grants gay staff marital leave

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Although private Italian institutions have been known to grant marital leave to gay employees, it is rare for public institutions to do so. Photo: Kevin Wong/Flickr
11:23 CET+01:00
A gay researcher has been granted marital leave by a public institution after wedding his partner abroad. The decision comes in spite of the fact that same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Italy.

The researcher, who is an employee at the University of Bologna, northern Italy, was granted a total of two weeks paid marital leave over the summer for his honeymoon, La Repubblica reported on Tuesday, despite the fact that it is a privilege normally only granted to heterosexual couples in Italy.

Although private Italian institutions have been known to grant marital leave to gay employees, it is rare for public institutions to do so, according to the paper.

This is the third time the university has granted marital leave to its gay employees with the first case reported over a year ago.

In the latest case, the researcher was granted marital leave when he returned to Bologna after marrying his partner abroad.

The decision has been welcomed by Italy’s gay community.

Among those praising the university's decision was Vincenzo Branà, President of the Bologna branch of Arcigay, Italy's largest gay rights organization.

“It is definitely a positive step for gay people both because they are receiving the same treatment as heterosexual people and because they have made the decision to make their unions public by coming out in their place of work,” Branà told The Local.

According to Branà, increasing numbers of gay couples are travelling abroad to tie the knot.

“Marriage abroad for Italian gay couples is a reason behind a real migration. There are even associations which deal with just this, providing couples with all the information to carrying out the ceremony abroad. It’s not only the fulfillment of a wish, but in many cases – when there are already children – it provides a network of stability.”

Democratic Party senator Sergio Lo Giudice, also a teacher, travelled to Oslo, Norway, to marry his partner two years ago. But, unlike the researcher in Bologna, he was not so lucky.

“I’m a teacher. When I married I asked the Ministry of Education to grant me marital leave, but they denied it to me. While the state continues to ignore these people, it’s society and justice that, one piece at a time, affirms these principles of equality.”

The senator added that the fact that the request was granted by a public institution “decidedly represents a difference with respect to other cases”.

Italy’s largest telecommunications firm, Telecom Italia is one of the few private companies to have adopted a fully-fledged diversity programme, part of which includes gay staff being granted a 14-day paid honeymoon entitlement.

Servizi Italia di Parma, a health firm with more than 1,500 employees also offers marital leave to its gay employees.

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But while this may be hailed as a victory for members of Italy’s gay community, the country has been hit by a series of high profile incidents of homophobia in recent months.

SEE ALSO: 'Most Italian firms are homophobic like Barilla'

The extent of homophobia within the workplace was shamelessly exposed in late September by the president of one of Italy’s biggest global exporters, Guido Barilla, who heads the eponymous pasta firm. He said during an interview that the firm would never feature a gay family in its ads.

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