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Sunday 23 October 2016

Irish 'Yes' a rallying cry for Italians campaigning for same-sex marriage

Published 25/05/2015 | 08:10

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Credit: Remo Casilli
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Credit: Remo Casilli

Following Ireland’s historic endorsement of same-sex marriage, Italy could soon follow suit as Italians politicians declare the Irish “Yes” as a “lesson in civility”.

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Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed to push through civil unions, seen by many as a first step towards allowing gay marriages in the heart land of the Catholic Church.

“Civil unions cannot be delayed any longer,” Mr Renzi said after Ireland voted last Friday to enshrine the right of all couples, regardless of sex, to marry in its Constitution.

Read More: Ireland is a home at last for us all, a home with a heart

Many of his key government members and party allies spoke in favour of expediting the proposed legislation.

Maria Elena Boschi, the Constitutional Reforms Minister, backed the call for civil unions.

“This is a battle for civility and there’s the will to get there,” she said.

"What joy," said Roberto Speranza, leader of Mr Renzi's centre-Left Democratic Party, of the result. "Ireland is giving us a lesson in civility," said the gay Italian politician Nichi Vendola, president of the Apulia region since 2005.

Read More: Marriage referendum: Gay people and their parents respond to the result

According to the La Repubblica newspaper, Mr Renzi conceded that while many members of his own centre-left Democratic Party wanted to go further and to legislate for gay marriage, realistically, civil partnerships would have to be the first step.

Socially conservative Italy is now the only Western European country that does not recognise either same sex marriage or civil unions.

However the unexpectedly strong "Yes" vote in Ireland has been viewed by many in Italy as a rallying cry push ahead with a bill that would introduction civil partnerships.

Several editorials on Sunday suggested that such a referendum in Italy would have a similar outcome.

In 1974, more than 60 pc of Italian voters defied the wishes of the Catholic Church and supported the right for married couples to  divorce.

Read More: The next goal for liberals will be referendum on abortion

Strong resistance to  gay equality remains though, as highlighted by an interview on Sunday by Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, the General Secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference.

He described how the traditional Italian family was under threat, implying that allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships was a “Trojan Horse” towards marriage quality.

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