Italian lawmakers on Wednesday paved
the way for Italy to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi forced the
issue by calling for a confidence vote in Italy's Chamber of
Deputies. The Italian Senate gave its approval in February.
With a 369-193 vote, Renzi's cabinet
survived. According to Reuters, such votes are used to curtail
debate. A loss would have forced the government to resign, but a
majority in the lower house made this unlikely in this case.
Renzi, who took office in 2014, is
making good on a campaign promise to expand gay rights.
Renzi said in a Facebook post that he
was putting the bill to a confidence vote “because it wasn't
possible to wait any longer after years of failed attempts.”
“The final version gives gay couples
the right to share a surname, draw on their partner's pension when
they die, and inherit each other's assets in the same way as married
Italy was the only Western European
country that offered gay couples no recognition.
Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of
the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, quietly came out against the
legislation in January.
“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.”