Media reports indicate organizers of the “Family Day” protest that took place at Circus Maximus said more two million people took part in it. Agence-France Presse said the crowd numbered at tens of thousands.
La Corriere della Sera, an Italian newspaper, published pictures of protesters holding signs that read, among other things, “in defense of the family and of children.”
Italian Environment Minister Gianluca Galletti is among those who attended the protest. The Italian Bishops Conference on Friday criticized the civil unions bill that would also extend second parent adoption rights to same-sex couples.
“Without limits, our society will go mad,” said protest organizer Massimo Gandolfini, according to Agence-France Presse.
LGBT advocates organize protests in support of measure
The Italian Senate on Jan. 28 began debating the civil unions bill that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government supports.
Opponents have introduced more than 6,000 amendments in an attempt to block the measure. One proposed amendment would punish any couple who uses a surrogate mother outside of the country to have a child with a fine of up to one million euros ($1,082,360) and up to two years in prison.
LGBT rights advocates and supporters of the bill on Jan. 23 staged dozens of protests across Italy.
Same-sex couples in Italy lack many of the legal protections that exist in other Western European countries.
Italy’s highest court in February 2015 ruled same-sex couples do not have the right to marry under the country’s constitution. The European Court of Human Rights in July 2015 said same-sex couples in Italy face human rights violations because the country has not “sufficiently” recognized them.