It really is a good time for equality. Just last month, the US Supreme Court decided that same sex marriage should be recognised in all states. Now, a little closer to home, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Italy violates human rights by not offering legal protection to gay couples.
The decisions comes amid a huge debate in the country as to whether the law should be changed. At present, Italy is the only western country who doesn’t accept civil unions or gay marriage.
The court found that gay couples were forced to live double lives in Italy; they could live as a couple, but didn’t receive any recognition of their partnership of family
This will increase the pressure on Italian PM Matteo Renzi. The centre left politician has promised to pass same sex union legislation, but is being held back by conservative politicians. That is probably no surprise, when you consider that Italy is such a Catholic country.
The case was brought about by three gay couples, all men, who described the challenges of not having their relationships recognised. The legal move was led by Enrico Oliari, president of gay rights group ‘Gaylib’.
“We are delighted,” Oliari said in a statement. “We arrived at this conclusion at the end of a battle that began 18 years ago with our association and an eight-year fight in the courtroom.”
Currently, Italy has ‘cohabitation agreements’. These were set up in 2013, but the European court felt that this didn’t provide help for the basic needs of committed couples in such matters as inheritance rights.
The current legislation only caters for those who are living together, like flatmates. In short, however sad it would be if your house-mate died, you wouldn’t expect to get all their money.
To be fair to the Italians, the opinion polls do seem to say that most of the country think that same sex union should be recognised. This point was emphasised by the court.
“The Italian government had not denied the need for legal protection of such couples and had failed to point to any community interests justifying the current situation,” the court said in a press release.
Now I have no idea how the Italian system works. Does that mean gay marriage is now legal? Do the courts in Italy now have to order the government to pass the legislation? Is the Italian parliament still in charge, and this will be seen as nothing more than a slap on the wrist?
If anyone knows, feel free to share the knowledge in the comments section below.
However, it is apparent that the world is moving towards equality for all. This truly is a good step by the European Court of Human Rights.
Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.
When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
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