Italy urgently needs civil unions, rules top European court

The European Court of Human Rights has criticised Italy for not protecting legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The Court ruled on Tuesday that Italy should introduce something along the lines of civil unions, in order to protect the rights of same-sex couples.

Italy remains the only major country in Western Europe which does not have legal protections for cohabiting same-sex couples, or same-sex marriage.

Three same-sex couples took the country to the European Court, arguing that the country discriminates against them due to their sexual orientation.

The seven-strong panel of judges ruled that  Italy urgently needs greater legal protections.

“The Court considered that the legal protection currently available in Italy to same-sex couples … not only failed to provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship, but it was also not sufficiently reliable,” wrote the panel.

Junior minister Ivan Scalfarotto was convinced to end a hunger strike at the weekend, as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the government would introduce a civil unions law by the end of 2015.

A previous bill to allow civil unions was blocked in Italy’s Senate by thousands of amendments.

In its ruling today, Italy was ordered to pay €5,000, in damages to each plaintiff.