Italy's government fights for gay marriage

After months of wrangling and protest rallies on both sides, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has won the confidence vote over a law legalising same-sex unions, but only after controversial elements such as adoption rights for gays were removed. What good will the law do?

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Le Figaro (FR) / 26 February 2016

An important step towards equality

Matteo Renzi has set the stage for more equality in Italy despite the changes to the draft law on gay partnerships, the conservative daily Le Figaro writes in praise:

“Before the confidence vote in the Senate, Renzi forced his party to work out an amendment that does away with the possibility of stepchild adoption and the obligation to fidelity. After these contentious points were eliminated the centrists confirmed their support. As for the left-wing dissidents in the Democratic Party, they didn't want to risk sparking a government crisis. Once the law is adopted, Renzi can claim he has brought Italy forward as far as the defence of civil liberties is concerned. Even if the result isn't exactly the one he originally envisaged.”

ll Manifesto (IT) / 26 February 2016

Renzi's marriage to the right

Renzi won Thursday's confidence vote thanks to votes from the group of former Berlusconi supporters gathered around Denis Verdini. He has formed a brand new partnership of his own, the left-wing daily Il Manifesto comments scathingly:

“It wasn't a pleasant spectacle: our Taliban [the conservative coalition partner the NCD] against the 'hysterical poofters', against 'unnatural' adoptions, against marriage vows for gay couples. … The government has put on the flashy ring Denis Verdini brought as a dowry to the marriage. With the confidence vote Verdini has made a triumphal march into the parliamentary majority faction. As Renzi himself says: to win and give the orders you don't need to see the blood counts of those who vote for you. The leader of the genetically modified Democratic Party has always been convinced that without the votes of the centre right his party can never win the elections. He is unswervingly pursuing his goal.”

Avvenire (IT) / 25 February 2016

Renzi chose the wrong approach

It's unfortunate that Renzi wants to push through the vote on same-sex civil unions through a confidence vote, the Catholic daily Avvenire believes:

“There are various ways of dictating laws, but Renzi's choice is unconvincing. It would have been better if he had avoided resorting to the confidence vote. It would have been better if things hadn't come to a sort of eat-or-die vote which puts the fate of the government on the line. It would have been better if the MPs' freedom of conscience had not been so drastically impinged upon. At the end of the day they will vote for the law - with a few exceptions. However they won't do it because they're convinced of the merits of this normative solution, but because their decision will be interpreted as a political verdict on the Renzi government.”

La Repubblica (IT) / 25 February 2016

Italy opts for cultural exit

Adoption of stepchildren and the legislation that would put marriage and civil partnerships on an equal legal footing have been taken out of the draft law to secure the vote of the government's conservative coalition partner NCD. This has deprived the legislation of all substance, the centre-left daily La Repubblica complains:

“At the start of the discussion on civil unions - in other words registered partnerships - it was stressed that the aim of the law was to make up for a shortfall. Italy had the chance to put the past behind it and catch up with the other EU member states. But now that the law has lost so many elements, it will - once passed - furnish new proof of a fundamental backwardness that Italy is simply unable to overcome no matter how hard it tries. ... At the end of the day you get the feeling that Italy has chosen the path of a cultural exit from Europe.”

Avvenire (IT) / 31 January 2016

The family is the core of civilisation

The people who protested on "Family Day", put on by Catholic organisations at the Circus Maximus in Rome, represent the voice of the people, the Catholic daily Avvenire argues:

“Anyone who can see and hear will have understood what it means for a secular, responsible population to express itself. With peaceful resolve and clear words that no one - not even those with different opinions - refuses to respect. This large group of people supports a form of humanism based on inviolable human dignity that is entrenched not only in their faith but also in the fundamental principles of our constitution. It defends a world view whose foundations, power and future are rooted in the family: the marriage and propagation of a man and a woman. It is time to respond to this demand from below, from the grass roots. It is time to amend the draft law.”

ll Manifesto (IT) / 31 January 2016

Stubbornly clinging to old-fashioned principles

Italy can't put the past behind it, the left-wing daily Il Manifesto laments with an eye to the protests against same-sex marriage:

“The new crusaders gathered in the Circus Maximus in Rome deny others their freedom. They march under the flag of the Catholic Alliance bearing banners with the words 'Father, Mother, Child, People, Nation', the symbol of a fundamentalist culture. ... In the name of inviolable principles they are doing all they can to stop same-sex marriage, the recognition of the rights of others. In Family Day, organised by the country's conservative associations, the Italy of the past has found its expression. Despite the balloons and the songs the rally's message is a dark one. It contains the fear of all confrontation, the stubborn determination to cling to yesterday's world.”

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