Anti-LGBT Catholics plotting to force referendum on Italy’s new civil unions law

Right-wing lawmakers and the anti-LGBT lobby in Italy are plotting to force a referendum on Italy’s new same-sex civil unions law.

Earlier this week, Italy’s Parliament passed a bill creating same-sex civil unions, in the face of strong opposition from the powerful Catholic church, sparking rebellions from Catholic lawmakers.

The law, which came about after the European Court of Human Rights found the country breached human rights laws, was passed after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called a confidence vote in himself to force the it through amid stalling from rebels.

LGBT activists across Italy were jubilant as the vote passed by 369-193. Italy was the last country in Western Europe with no recognition for same-sex partnerships.

Though the law is entirely civil and does not impact religious weddings, Catholic Archbishops slammed the law’s passage as “creeping fascism” and a “defeat” for everyone.

However, the country’s anti-LGBT lobby is planning to push back – with right-wing parties readying a petition campaign on the issue. If they manage to gather 500,000 signatures, a referendum could be forced on the issue if approved by the Constitutional Court.

The process can only begin after the bill is signed into law by President Sergio Mattarell, but the groundwork is already being laid for the effort.

Italian Senator Carlo Giovanardi said: “We are not against the recognition of rights but we are resorting to a referendum because [Prime Minister Matteo] Renzi prevented us from amending and debating the law.”

However, the pro-LGBT lobby is confident that equality would win out in any potential referendum.

According to The Local, Democrats Senator Monica Cirinna said:  “Italian citizens have never voted for discrimination.

“They have always confirmed major civil rights advances which have already happened.”

Rights activist Maria Laura Annibali had lamented that provisions for same-sex adoptions were ditched from the bill to attempt to appease Catholic rebels.

She said: “For me, it is a great joy, and it would have been even greater if they had included the adoptions for our friends, men and women from the Rainbow Families, for their children.

“But for a woman of my age, a day like this is the coronation of what I thought a marriage could be when I was a child. They don’t want to call it marriage, but for us all it is a bill on marriage.”