Milan: The northern Italian city of Milan will now recognise same-sex unions.
After a debate of more than 11 hours, 29 city councillors backed a by-law recognising common law unions of unmarried, co-habitating couples.
Some councillors who opposed the measure were conservative Catholics.
The city council will "safeguard and support" civil unions in a range of areas including access to housing, health, social services, schooling, transport, sport and leisure facilities, according to the by-law.
The definition of the unions to go on city records was changed to "two people linked by emotional bonds" from "a set of persons linked by emotional bonds" amid fears the by-law could be interpreted as sanctioning polygamy.
The adoption of the by-law was hailed by Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia.
"From today onwards, there are more rights in Milan," he said.
Gay rights organisations welcomed the measure as a step toward granting legal rights and privileges similar to those of married couples.