Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's political gamble paid off today, with his nation's senate voting overwhelmingly to approve a bill to legalize non-religious civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. After being held up for weeks in the country's upper house of parliament due to heated controversy over a provision that would allow for one partner to adopt the biological child of the other, the bill will now head to the lower house—stripped of the adoption clause—where its passage is expected to be easy.
Renzi has made it a personal mission to bring his country into alignment with the rest of Western Europe—Italy is the only major country without any legal recognition or protections for same-sex couples, let alone marriage equality. In an attempt to force the bill's passage, he called a confidence vote in his leadership and his legislative agenda today. Had the motion failed, he would have been forced to resign. The vote was successful, passing by a margin of 173:71, an outcome that Renzi has hailed as "historic."
Gay rights activists, however, have described the bill as a betrayal, according to the BBC. Renzi had long insisted that the provision for gay adoption remain included. His unwillingness to back down on the issue is why the bill stalled in the senate for so long. However, after Italy's highest court refused yesterday to recognize a gay partner adoption performed in the United States, Renzi decided to move ahead with a version of the motion stripped of the controversial adoption provision.
Flavio Romani, president of the LGBT rights group Arcigay, told Reuters:
"This text once again does not take into consideration children who need definite laws and protection. The law that has come out of all this is lacking its heart."