Traditional Family Values in Italy Violate Human Rights, European Court Rules

Activists and supporters of gay rights raise a sign to say ‘yes to gay marriage’ at a parade in Milan last month. Activists and supporters of gay rights raise a sign to say ‘yes to gay marriage’ at a parade in Milan last month.

Italy stands as the lone major western European country to resist recognizing civil partnerships and gay marriage, but the nation is facing increasing pressure to abandon the traditional understanding of marriage, reports The Guardian.

On a case brought by three gay male couples, led by Enrico Oliari of the gay rights group GayLib, the European court of human rights has ruled that Italy’s stance is in violation of article eight of the European convention on human rights, which speaks to the right to respect for privacy and family life. The court’s Tuesday ruling claimed that homosexuals in Italy face the burden of being able to live openly in their relationships while receiving no recognition or benefits from the government.

Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister has long promised to see through the passing of civil partnership legislation. Italian conservatives have stood strong against the proposed innovation, although there are signs that the hedge may not stand. In June the lower house of the Italian parliament officially committed itself to pursuing civil union legislation, while rebuffing the obvious notion that such a law would undermine traditional family values.   

Pointing out that 24 of the 47 member states in the Council of Europe have already taken it upon themselves to alter marriage, the European court deemed that the creation of civil unions or registered partnerships would be the most appropriate course of action. Rules allowing for “cohabitation agreements” were established in December 2013, but the court ruled that such contracts were too limited as they were not intended specifically for couples.

Italy’s own highest courts have regularly called for legislation reform, but the Italian legislature has thus far not seen fit to trod the path of transforming the basic building block of society.


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