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

More from Europe

Germany, US, others offer to bolster NATO presence around Black Sea

Six NATO countries, including the United States and Germany, offered Wednesday to help bolster the alliance's...

Three earthquakes in Italy cause "apocalyptic" damage, but no victims

Three major earthquakes Wednesday struck a region in central Italy that had already been hit by a deadly seismic...

Belgium closes in on CETA deal as Thursday summit hangs in balance

Belgian regional governments were closing in on a compromise late Wednesday that would allow the country to approve...

Putin: Ukraine cutting power off in Crimea was "serious crime"

Ukraine's shut-off of electricity and drinking water to Crimea following Russia's annexation of the peninsula was "...

Russia drops request for navy to use Spanish port under NATO pressure

Russia has withdrawn its request for warships to use the Spanish port of Ceuta on the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian...