Church told to butt out of Italian gay unions debate

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday told the Catholic Church to stop meddling in parliamentary affairs after a top bishop pushed for a secret vote on amendments to a bill to allow same sex civil unions.

Church told to butt out of Italian gay unions debate
Matteo Renzi has told the church to stop meddling in Italy's gay unions debate. Photo: Fillipo Monteforte / AFP

The bill is currently before the Italian Senate, which is due to begin voting on it on Tuesday amid real uncertainty over whether its provisions giving gay couples adoption rights will survive.
The head of the Italian bishops' conference, Angelo Bagnasco, on Thursday urged lawmakers in the second chamber of parliament to allow secret voting to ensure they really followed their consciences.
Renzi, who has been uncharacteristically quiet on an issue that has divided the political class, reacted pithily on Friday, revealing hitherto unsuspected strong backing for the legislation.
“Parliament decides whether or not to allow secret votes not the CEI (the bishops' conference),” Renzi said.
“What is there to fear from two people who love each other? Why not give these rights to two people who love each other? The majority of the country is clearly in favour of it.”
Italy is the only major country in Western Europe which does not offer legal recognition of gay relationships.
Public opinion has moved decisively in favour of civil unions in recent years as neighbouring countries have legalized gay marriage. But the question of adoption rights is much more divisive.
If the Senate approves the bill it will then move to the Chamber of Deputies for consideration.

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