Italy's Parliament gives the green light for Bill over same-sex civil unions

Colored ribbons are seen on a desk before the final vote on gay and unmarried civil unions at the Italy's lower house of Parliament in Rome, Italy on May 11, 2016.
Colored ribbons are seen on a desk before the final vote on gay and unmarried civil unions at the Italy's lower house of Parliament in Rome, Italy on May 11, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME (AFP/Reuters) - Italy's Parliament on Wednesday (May 11) issued a green light for the introduction of gay civil unions, in the last major Western country not to legally recognise same-sex relationships.

Lawmakers in the Lower House Chamber of Deputies voted 369-193 in favour of a vote of confidence in the government, which makes final approval of a long-awaited and highly divisive civil unions Bill automatic.

The Bill also give some rights to unmarried heterosexual couples. It must now be given formal approval by the Lower House later on Wednesday, after which it is due to become law.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won the vote by 369 votes to 193, with two abstentions. He would have had to resign if he had lost the vote, but his healthy majority in the Lower House made that highly unlikely.