By Alex Temblador
Italy is currently the only major country in Western Europe without legal recognition of same-sex couples, however, that might not be the case for long. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Oliari and Others vs. Italy that Italy’s ban on same-sex marriage was a human rights violation. Though the court cannot enforce this ruling on Italy, it has put a scrutinizing eye on Italy from the world and may pressure them into providing same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Rome, Milan, and Naples have legalized civil union registries but these fail to provide full protections and rights for same-sex couples in these cities and they do nothing to provide legal rights to the LGBT community in other parts of Italy.
The European Court of Human Rights suggested that “a civil union or registered partnership would be the most appropriate way for same-sex couples like the applicants to have their relationship legally recognized.” However they also noted that most European countries were giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry, “24 out of the 47 member States having legislated in favor of such recognition,” and reminded Italy that “the Italian Constitutional Court had repeatedly called for such protection and recognition.” They also note that a majority of the Italian population supported same-sex marriage, despite the countries strong ties to the Catholic Church.
Currently there are only 20 nations in the world that have legalized same-sex marriage while Mexico has legalized it in certain regions of their country. Twenty nations out of 193 countries in the world. That number is far too low and tells us that many countries across the world are in violation of human rights with their lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
It is important that Italy legalize same-sex marriage for many reasons. First and most obvious, is that it would give thousands of same-sex couples the right to marry in Italy. Secondly, it would closely follow the United States’ marriage equality decision and would perhaps maintain the momentum of the marriage equality movement across the world. Other countries like Australia are considering legalizing same-sex marriage and they may be more inclined to give full marriage rights to same-sex couples in their own countries if they see Italy set a positive example.
Lastly, we need Italy to legalize same-sex marriage because it would remind us that the LGBT rights movement is successful, not just in the U.S., but also abroad. Same-sex marriage and legal protections for the LGBT community are needed to make the world a better place and we hope to see Italy make the right step in correcting the violation of human rights in their own country and perhaps others will soon follow.