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Prodi: Italian govt pushing ahead with plan to give unmarried couples legal rights

Prodi: Italian govt pushing ahead with plan to give unmarried couples legal rights

Premier Romano Prodi said his center-left government is pushing ahead with a divisive proposal to grant unmarried couples legal recognition, drawing the criticism Sunday of bishops and even some of his own allies.
There is no consensus within Prodi's coalition on the issue, reflecting divisions in a bloc that ranges from Christian Democrats to Communists.
But the premier met with the two ministers most involved in drafting the proposal _ and who don't agree on the issue _ and reported progress in mediating between them.
"We have made a step forward," Prodi said after the talks Saturday at his Bologna home. "We are working ... toward a plan that all the coalition will approve."
The proposal may be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting late next week.
Piero Fassino, leader of the Democrats of the Left, said Sunday that the proposal would give gay and straight unmarried couples "greater serenity and solidity," according to the ANSA and Apcom news agencies.
The issue is a touchy one in Italy, an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation that hosts the Vatican and is still partially influenced by church positions.
Monsignor Giuseppe Betori, secretary general of the influential Italian bishops conference, voiced his concerns, saying Sunday that such unions "eradicate the values that we present to society."
Opposition from the church has been strong.
Pope Benedict XVI has condemned same-sex unions as anarchic "pseudo-matrimony," and has launched a campaign to protect traditional families.
Also problematic for the Prodi is opposition within the coalition's ranks.
Clemente Mastella, a Christian Democrat who serves as justice minister, said he would abstain in a Cabinet vote on the proposal but would likely vote against it in the Senate, where Prodi has only a slim majority.


Updated : 2021-02-27 07:05 GMT+08:00