Italy: Giambrone Comments On Italian Civil Union Decree Approval
Last Updated: 15 June 2016

Rome, 11/05/ 2016 – The Italian Parliament has approved the Cirinnà decree on Civil Unions with 369 votes in favour, 193 against and 2 abstained.

In relation to civil unions and cohabitation, the decree distinguishes two different institutions:

  • Civil unions for gay couples
  • Cohabitation for heterosexual couples

Article 1 of the decree provides that two people of the same sex, of at least 18 years of age have the right of establishing a civil union as provided by article 2 and 3 of the Italian Constitution in relation to de facto cohabitation. It will be necessary to file a declaration before the civil registrar in the presence of two witnesses. Civil unions celebrated abroad will also be recognised, even in the case when one of the spouses has undergone sex reassignment surgery. Civil unions also imply the mutual duties of material and moral assistance, along with the duties of cohabitation.

As far as rights and duties in same-sex unions are concerned such as, for instance, residence, familial abuse, interdiction and the termination of the union, the final text of the Cirinnà decree, provides what is already provided by the Civil Code in relation to marriage.

The bill provides, for the couple, rights to health care, community and separation of property, the right to take over of rent contracts and to a survivor's pension, along with the duties that are already provided for heterosexual marriages. The same is applied to succession, as the spouse of a gay couple is entitled to 50% of the partner's inheritance.

The decree does not however provide the right, for same-sex couples, to adopt a baby that has no biological relation to one of the spouses. Cirinnà decree does not also provide the so called "stepchild adoption", or the possibility for one of the spouses to adopt the child of their late partner. This aspect was included in the first draft of the decree, but it was excluded after the first review in February.

Both spouses are required, according to their economic circumstancess and their professional and domestic working capacity, to contribute to common needs. They also agree on and establish their common domicile.

It is possible for spouses to terminate the civil union in the case they express their will to terminate the union before the civil registrar.

Gabriele Giambrone, Managing Partner at Giambrone commented: "This is a historic occassion for a nation where traditional family norms are still strong. Nearly every Western country, especially in Europe, has legalised same-sex marriage or some form of civil union for gay people. Italy was perhaps the most important exception, until today"

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