The annual pride parade in Rome in June, 2013 (Photo: REUTERS/Max Rossi)
Advocates of same-sex marriage are celebrating an Italian court's ruling yesterday requiring a town recognize the marriage of two men who were wed in the United States.
"This is a unique precedent for our country," Sergio Lo Giudice, a senator and a past president of Italy's leading gay rights group Arcigay, told the news agency. "It is the first time that a gay marriage has been recognized in Italy."
The decision was made public yesterday in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, and involved Stefano Bucci, 57, and Giuseppe Chigiotti, 68, who were married in New York in 2012. Bucci and Chigiotti sued Grosseto town hall after an official there refused to transcribe their marriage into the local registers, thereby denying an official acknowledgement of their marriage.
But the court ruled that nothing in the local marriage register or Italian law prevented the official from recognizing a same-sex marriage obtained abroad. In his ruling, Judge Claudio Boccini acknowledged that the right to marry "has acquired new and wider connotations, which include marriage between two people of the same gender."
For now, the ruling gives the couple the same rights as a heterosexual married couple — although officials said today that they would appeal the ruling next week.
Gay marriage and civil unions have become increasingly common throughout western Europe — The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Denmark, France and the UK all allow them — leaving Italy, with its predominantly Catholic population, increasingly on its own.
The Telegraph reports that Italian Bishops Conference president Angelo Bagnasco denounced the ruling, warning it would "sweep away the fundamental pillars of the institution of marriage, rooted in our culture and guaranteed in our constitution."