Italy celebrates first gay unions as landmark reform comes into force

Civil unions between two homosexual couples were celebrated in Milan on Friday, in one of the first applications of a landmark reform on gay rights approved by the Italian parliament almost three months ago.

The bill on gay unions, which grants same-sex couples similar rights to married ones in terms of inheritance, housing and pension rights, did not come into force until July 29 because it needed implementing decrees.

Civil unions "recognize rights that had been denied for too long," Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, who led Friday's ceremonies, wrote on the municipality's website. "Best wishes to the new grooms and brides," he added.

Some 350 same-sex couples have filed applications to form civil unions in Milan, the municipality said.

The reform is being applied unevenly across Italy, as bureaucratic delays are slowing down procedures in some cities, including Rome and Milan.

A civil union between two women was celebrated in Bologna on Wednesday, while Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino was scheduled Saturday to preside over a ceremony for two men aged 82 and 79.

The elderly couple, introduced only by their first names Franco and Gianni, was interviewed by the La Repubblica newspaper on Tuesday.

"We had to wait 52 years, unfortunately, but we finally got there, and we feel happy and proud to be able to do it: for us first, but also for people who know us, for our friends, for those who will follow our example," Gianni said.

Before the reform was passed, Italy was the last country in Western Europe that granted no legal recognition to same-sex couples. It was urged to change the status quo by its constitutional court, as well as the European Court of Human Rights.

Last update: Fri, 05/08/2016 - 18:34

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