Italy's Senate on Thursday
overwhelmingly approved a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian
couples with civil unions.
Italy is the only Western European
country that offers gay couples no recognition.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi praised the
173-71 vote in the Senate, calling it “historic.”
But LGBT advocates denounced the
legislation as a betrayal. An an effort to ensure passage, Renzi's
Democratic Party stripped out a provision from the bill that sought
to allow gay couples to jointly adopt their biological children.
The bill now heads to the lower
chamber, where it is expected to pass.
Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of
the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, quietly came out against the
legislation last month.
“There can be no confusion between
the family God wants and any other type of union,” Francis
told members of the Vatican court that rules on marriage annulments.
“The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and
allows procreation, is part of God's dream and that of his church for
the salvation of humanity.”