Italy's highest court is expected to rule on a gay marriage case this week, Italian media is reporting.

The country's Constitutional Court heard an appeal on March 23 from two gay couples who were denied the right to marry.

Italian lawmakers have debated civil unions and marriage for gay and lesbian couples since 1986, but no proposal has ever reached the floor of Parliament for a vote.

The Vatican opposes recognition of gay unions.

The court will meet in closed session to discuss a large number of appeals – including the gay marriage case – on Tuesday and Wednesday. In March, the court postponed making a decision until after Easter.

Last week, Portugal's Constitutional Court gave its OK to a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers.