February 12, 2015 at 12:41 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Italy high court rejects same-sex marriage

Certi Diritti, gay news, Washington Blade

LGBT rights advocates indicate their support of marriage rights for same-sex couples during last year’s Pride parade in Milan. (Photo courtesy of Yuri Guaiana/Certi Diritti)

Italy’s highest court has ruled same-sex couples are not entitled to marriage rights under the country’s constitution.

ANSA, an Italian news agency, reported the Court of Cassation in an 18 page decision it released on Monday concluded there is nothing in the Italian Constitution that requires the government to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The tribunal nevertheless said gays and lesbians have what ANSA described as “the right to a ‘protective’ law that would ensure same-sex couples have the same rights as unmarried Italian couples.”

The ruling is similar to one the Italian Constitutional Court issued last June in the case of a married couple who were “divorced contrary to their wishes” after one of the spouses had sex-reassignment surgery.

“There is no right for a couple that is no longer heterosexual to remain united by the bonds of matrimony,” reads the Constitutional Court decision.

Yuri Guaiana of Certi Diritti, an Italian group that advocates for marriage rights for same-sex couples in the country, on Wednesday noted to the Washington Blade the Court of Cassation ruling echoes last year’s Constitutional Court decision in that the country’s constitution says “same-sex couples are entitled to the same degree of protection married couples are.”

Guaiana added Monday’s decision also mirrors the Constitutional Court ruling that he said “calls on” the Italian Parliament to “take urgent action on the matter.”

“The protection of equality granted to all Italian citizens in the fundamental principles of our Constitution cannot tolerate the sort of juridical segregationalism which would result from the existence of to different institutions reserved to different kind of couples: marriage for different-sex couples and civil partnership for same-sex couple,” Guaiana told the Blade.

Italian law does not recognize same-sex couples

Monday’s ruling comes roughly five months after Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino registered 16 same-sex marriages that were legally performed abroad in defiance of Interior Minister Angelino Alfano’s previous pledge to annul them. This action roughly coincided with a meeting of Roman Catholics at the Vatican during which they discussed the family and reiterated their opposition to gay unions.

The Italian government does not recognize same-sex unions.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proposed the legal recognition of civil partnerships, but he does not support the extension of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Rome, Florence, Naples, Palermo and more than 100 other Italian cities and municipalities have created largely symbolic civil union registries. Tuscany, Puglia and Emilia-Romagna are among the regional governments that have also enacted similar registries.

“We honor the memory of Rosa Parks who taught us to fight for the right of sitting wherever we want,” Guaiana told the Blade.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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