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Italy senate approves civil unions bill

[JURIST] The Italian Senate [official website, in Italian], using a confidence motion in parliament on Thursday, voted 173-71 [press release, in Italian] to approve a bill [text, PDF, in Italian] permitting civil unions for same-sex and heterosexual couples. The approved bill is a watered-down version [Reuters report] of the original bill, which would have granted unmarried couples some adoption rights. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi [official website, in Italian] had to strip out provisions granting adoption rights in order to overcome opposition from his own center-left coalition. Gay rights organizations expressed disappointment over the dropped adoption provisions, which followed months of political debate and mass rallies across the country. Even with the adoption provisions removed, the issue of civil unions split the parliament across religious lines, with politicians connected to the Roman Catholic Church claiming that the bill would encourage same-sex couples to have babies using surrogate mothers, which is illegal in Italy. The current bill, if enacted, will give same-sex couples the right to receive a deceased partner's pension, the right to take a partner's name, inheritance rights and next-of-kin rights in medical emergencies—rights that has previously been reserved for married couples. Italy is currently the only major western country that has yet to recognize civil unions and Renzi hailed Thursday's vote as historic stating that "Hope has won against fear. Courage has won against discrimination. Love has won." The bill will go to the lower house of parliament later this year for final approval.

The issue of same-sex marriage and gay rights continues to be a controversial international issues. Earlier this month the Supreme Court of India [official website] agreed to review its 2013 decision reinstating [JURIST report] an 1861 law prohibiting sex between consenting adults of the same sex. Last month, the Supreme Court of Mexico [official website, in Spanish] struck down [press release, in Spanish] a Jalisco state law defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. Also in January, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore instructed [JURIST report] state judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses [order] because the Alabama Supreme Court [official website] had previously ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is legal. In December voters Slovenia rejected a law [JURIST report] that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. In November the Constitutional Court of Colombia [official website, in Spanish] ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex couples can legally adopt children. The same month, a same-sex couple in Northern Ireland filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] to challenge the same-sex marriage ban, arguing that reducing their marriage to a civil partnership is unlawful discrimination.

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