Italian Court Recognizes Gay Marriage for First Time

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 9 2014 7:38 PM

Italian Court Recognizes Gay Marriage for First Time

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The annual Gay Pride parade in Rome.

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Italy's legal system recognized a gay couple’s relationship as marriage for the first time on Wednesday. The country does not officially acknowledge same-sex unions making it one of the few European holdouts in recognizing same-sex partnerships. The legal turnaround took place in a Tuscan courthouse, as the court ordered the local government to register a gay couple, who were wed in New York in 2012, as married, Agence France-Presse reports.

The decision, whether it survives appeal or not, represents a dramatic legal turn considering the dismal the state of gay rights in Italy. How dismal? Here’s how the Los Angeles Times describes it: “[Italy] is the only major nation in Western Europe to offer virtually no rights or protections to homosexuals. From a legal standpoint in Italy, gays and lesbians essentially do not exist. Where other countries outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, for example, Italy has no such ban…”

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Here’s more on the court’s decision, and the judge’s reasoning, from AFP:

Grosseto judge Claudio Boccini ruled that there was "no reference to gender" in the city council register of married couples and the couple in question should therefore be included. The right to marry "has acquired new and wider connotations, which include marriage between two people of the same gender," the judge said. The two, who are 68 and 57 years old, were denied registration following their marriage in New York in 2012 but had appealed to the court. A local daily, Il Tirreno, named them as Giuseppe Chigiotti, an architect, and Stefano Bucci, a journalist.

"This is an unprecedented case in our country," Sergio Lo Giudice, a senator from the Democratic Party, told reporters after the decision. Fabrizio Marrazzo, a spokesman for Gay Center described the ruling to AFP as "a revolutionary event that deserves a positive political response” from Italy’s Prime Minister.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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