Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of Italy's Forza Italia political party, one of the nation's three major political parties, has backed civil unions for gay couples.

The former Italian premier told reporters that civil unions are the “right compromise” between freedom and “deep respect for Christian values and for traditional families,” the AP reported.

A civil unions bill was introduced in June. Under the proposal, introduced by MP Monica Cirinna, a member of Italy's Democratic Party, couples who register for a civil union will receive all the rights and obligations of marriage, with the exception of limited adoption rights.

The center-right Forza Italia remains opposed to marriage equality.

Berlusconi's fiancee, Francesca Pascale, joined Arcigay, Italy's largest LGBT rights advocate, over the summer and supports allowing gay couples to marry.

(Related: Rome's Ignazio Marino registers marriages of 16 gay couples.)