Gay marriage in Italy


An Italian court has ordered a town to recognise the marriage of a gay couple who were wed in the United States, a move that advocates of gay marriage, which is not allowed in Italy, hailed as a first step toward legality.

The court in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, in a decision announced late on Wednesday, said the town hall had to transcribe the marriage into its records, giving the two men the same rights as a heterosexual married couple.

The court ruled that there was no legal obstacle to the recognition of a gay marriage performed in a country where it is legal.

"Politicians should take note," said Fabrizio Marrazzo of the Gay Center rights group. "This opens a new chapter for gay couples in Italy."

The Catholic Church, which still holds considerable sway over politics in Italy, is opposed to gay marriage.

The Italian parliament will debate civil unions for gays -- “unioni gay”-- in September, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promising that homosexual couples will have the same rights as married heterosexual couples, including pensions and inheritance guarantees. The only differences will relate to adoption.

The government was inspired for this “rainbow revolution” by the establishment of gay civil partnerships in Britain and Germany.

Ivan Scalfarotto, vice-president of Renzi’s Democratic party and an activist for gay issues, said: “In a perfect world I would like to have gay marriage in Italy, but I would rather have civil union immediately.” He said that gay marriages celebrated abroad would be registered as civil unions in Italy.

However, the Catholic majority of the country is ready to oppose the introduction of gay civil partnership.