Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday in support of a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions in Italy.

Demonstrations were held in almost 100 towns and cities across Italy, according to Reuters.

Italy is the only major Western country that offers gay couples no recognition.

Liliana Rizzo, a member of an LGBT parents' group, joined a rally outside the Pantheon in Rome. “In Italy people think that there are those who are allowed to have rights and those who aren't,” she said.

“We don't want to take anything away from the traditional families … but our families also exist, our children exist and our children need to have both of their parents recognized,” she added.

(Related: Pope Francis reiterates church's opposition to gay marriage as Italy debates civil unions.)

The Senate is expected to begin debate on the bill Thursday.

Opponents of the bill are planning a Saturday, January 30 demonstration in Rome dubbed “Family Day.”