The bill, which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi put his government on the line for after resorting to a confidence vote, passed its first major hurdle in late February when it was approved by the Senate – but only after a clause allowing stepchild adoption was removed.
A triumphant Renzi said “this story has gone on for too long” after the committee gave the bill the green light on Wednesday.
The lower house of parliament will vote on the bill on May 12th.
The vote is seen more as a formality, but Renzi has said he would call a confidence vote on the government, if necessary, to make the bill law.
For this reason, lawmakers from Forza Italy, the Northern League and the small centrist party, Area Popolare, were absent from the debate on Wednesday night in protest.
Italy is the last major western European country that does not extend some sort of rights to same-sex couples. The last time the country attempted to pass a civil unions' bill was in 2007.