Legislation which would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions was introduced this week in the Italian Senate.

MP Monica Cirinna (pictured above), a member of Italy's Democratic Party (Partito Democratico), introduced the measure on Tuesday, June 24, the blog Agere per Formulas reported.

Cirinna said she hopes her legislation will be approved “before the end of the year.”

The proposal has the support of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the head of Italy's Democratic Party.

If the measure is approved, couples who register for a civil union will be granted all the rights and obligations of marriage, with the exception of limited adoption rights. Civil unioned couples will be allowed to adopt each other's children, but not jointly adopt a child.

The bill would also create a “cohabitation contract” with limited benefits available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

The Democratic Party, along with Five Star Movement and Forza Italia, is one of Italy's three major political parties. Five Star Movement has previously endorsed marriage equality, but the Silvio Berlusconi-led center-right Forza Italia remains opposed.