Gay civil unions become reality in Italy

Italy`s long-awaited, much-disputed law allowing gay civil unions took effect Friday after it was published in an official journal, as couples start applying for legal recognition of their same-sex relationships.

Rome: Italy`s long-awaited, much-disputed law allowing gay civil unions took effect Friday after it was published in an official journal, as couples start applying for legal recognition of their same-sex relationships.

In Milan, a civil servant went Wednesday to an intensive care unit to get consent from her terminally ill partner Margherita -- a 53-year-old teacher with whom she has lived for 28 years -- for their civil union.

Theirs will be the first registered in Milan in about 10 days` time, the city told the media.

Throughout Italy, town halls have reported that requests for gay unions have started coming in.

The Italian parliament passed the landmark legislation in May overruling opposition from the country`s powerful Catholic Church.

It introduces civil unions for the first time but denies same sex couples equal adoption rights to their heterosexual counterparts.

Italy was the last major Western country to introduce legal recognition of gay relationships and the law`s provisions do not go as far as the gay marriage legislation enacted in other European countries such as Britain, France or Spain.

Some more complicated cases in Italy, such as couples of different nationalities who got married overseas, will have to wait a bit longer until a definitive decree of the new law is made by early December.

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