Italy’s parliament finally began debating a bill that would recognize gay couples for the first time.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had promised to introduce civil unions by the end of the year, although early 2016 looks more likely now.
‘We are finally here with a civil union bill that is very strong’, said Senator Monica Cirinna, the author of the bill.
The draft legislation offers some, but not all, marriage benefits, such as pension and inheritance rights.
Italy is the last major country in Western Europe that does not recognize either gay marriage or civil unions.
In July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Rome had violated the rights of three gay couples by not offering them any legal protection.
PM Renzi supports this initiative
It's time Italy!