MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's initiative to recognize gay couples was adopted by the lower house of parliament Wednesday, with 369 votes in favor and 193 against, while there were two abstentions, Corriere della Sera reported.
"This day is a day of celebration for many," Renzi wrote on Facebook.
Italian same-sex unions have not been recognized for a long time due to strong anti-gay sentiment among Catholic conservatives.
The new law provides civil union status to same-sex partnerships. However, they still will not enjoy the full range of rights granted to married heterosexual couples, such as the right to inherit part of a deceased spouse's pension.
Currently, European homosexuals have the right to register their union as a marriage in 9 countries and to obtain civil partnership status in 13 countries.