The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - December 12

The city council in Padua, in northern Italy, has voted to create a domestic partner registry for same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples. The leftist coalition-dominated council voted 26-7 in favor of the motion, making the city the first in Italy to give any official recognition to gay and lesbian couples.

The registry has little legal authority, only covering areas in which the city has jurisdiction. Still, it was hailed by LGBT rights supporters as a significant victory, and assailed by conservatives as an affront to the "sanctity of marriage". The Vatican issued an immediate denouncement. The official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano accused the council of allowing "a parallel family" structure and reminded those who voted for it of the Church's position on same-sex unions.

Couples who register will receive a "certification of family" document from the city. It will assist couples in gaining a spot on waiting lists for public housing and can be used to show proof of a relationship when seeking time off from work to assist a sick partner or child. It will also allow visitation rights in hospitals.

On a national level the center-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi is moving forward with legislation to allow civil partnerships.