An estimated two million Italians stormed Rome’s Circus Maximus to protest a bill that would legalize same-sex unions across the country.
The council is set to vote next week on the proposal, which would give heterosexual parents equal rights as they would have under marriage, including the adoption of their partners’ children, legal protections such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.
“Italy can’t remain the tail-end in Europe in the field of civil and human rights,” Monica Cirinna, the bill’s author, told NBC News. “We can’t go to Europe to complain about economic problems if we carry such a heavy burden as the failure to recognize same-sex couples.”
Opponents of same-sex marriages have argued that recognition of same-sex marriages would erode religious freedoms, undermine a right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father or erode the institution of marriage itself.
The Netherlands were the first country to extend equal marriage rights to homosexuals. Belgium was second. Spain, South Africa, Canada, and the American states of Massachusetts and California legalized same-sex marriage later. Italy is the only Western European nation that doesn’t recognize same-sex civil unions or gay marriage, because of their involvement with the Catholic church.
The proposed bill was submitted to the parliament on Oct. 7, 2015. The council is expected to hold its final vote on the bill by Feb. 9
Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, has long supported the legal recognition of same-sex unions.
One of the organizers of the protest, Gianfranco Amato said, “In Italy the constitutional court said marriage is only between a man and a woman … This law is a scam, because it requires changing the constitution.”
Our children are not for sale,” said Gianluca, one of the participants of the campaign.
Banners read: “We defend our children,” “The family is founded on marriage between a man and a woman,” etc. Trains and buses ferried in campaigners from around Italy to take part in the event
Pope Francis has seriously opposed attempts to bring in legislation recognizing Same-sex marriage saying that: “there can be no confusion between the family willed by God and any other type of union.”
Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini of Campobasso-Boiano told CNA’s Italian edition that:
“The message of the campaign is that a family, consisting of a man and a woman, “is so deeply rooted in the Italian people, which has finally been awakened by a group of courageous lay persons. These values do not have ideology, but they have the beauty of saying that every child needs a father and a mother.”
“I am very happy to see this reality of enthusiasm which means that Italy is awakening. Europe needs these things: trust in the future, in children, in tomorrow,” he said.