Italian opinions have changed in the past and people are tolerant of gay rights in a peculiar way that is due to the religious influence of the Roman Catholic Church, which has been ingrained in society for 1,700 years. Conservative Italian politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi have often been opposed to increasing gay rights.  A Eurobarometer survey published on December 2006 showed that 31% of Italians surveyed support same-sex marriage and 24% recognise same-sex couple's right to adopt (EU-wide average 44% and 33%). A recent 2007 poll asking whether they supported the civil partnership law for gays. Support for the measure was at 45% support, with 47% oppose. 8% said they were unsure.
Laws against homosexual activityEdit
Since the introduction of the first Penal Code in 1889, effective in 1890, there have been no laws against same-sex sexual activity in Italy. However, gays were persecuted in the later years of the Mussolini regime and under the Italian Social Republic of 1943-45. The age of consent is 14. 
Homosexuals are not officially banned from military service. However, no administrative regulation or law explicitly allows them to serve openly either. Nevertheless, since that which is not forbidden is legal, such a law would probably only have a symbolic value.
Laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientationEdit
In 2004, Tuscany became the first Italian region to ban discrimination against homosexuals in the areas of employment, education, public services, and accommodations. The Berlusconi government challenged the new law in court, asserting that only the central government had the right to pass such a law. The Constitutional Court overturned the provisions regarding accommodations, but upheld most of the legislation. 
Furthermore, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment is illegal throughout the whole country, in conformity with EU directives.
Recognition of same-sex relationshipsEdit
Same-sex couples living in Italy have no shared rights to property, social security and inheritance. Since the 2005 regional elections, many Italian regions with centre-left governing coalitions have passed resolutions in support of French style PACS (civil union), including Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Campania, Marche, Puglia, Lazio, Liguria, and Abruzzo. Regions officially opposed to any recognition of same-sex relationships include Sicily and Lombardy. They are led by the centre-right House of Freedoms. However, these are all symbolic actions.
Any substantive change must come from Parliament in Rome. In the Italian Parliament, the government under Romano Prodi has held discussions regarding a bill for civil unions for same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples. Prodi has been a supporter of moderate rights for same-sex couples since July, 2005 when he met with gay activists, but he opposes gay marriage. However, despite several bills introduced to the Parliament in the past, the government is likely to follow the programmatic electoral guidelines of the center-left coalition. According to the document, the coalition is only committed to a vague "recognition of rights and prerogatives of individuals who are part of a de facto couple". The results, if any, might be extremely modest.
On February 2007 the Prodi government proposed to the national parliament a new law allowing a restricted version of civil union, called DICO, which would grant rights to unmarried couples both homosexuals and heterosexuals in areas of labour law, inheritance, tax and medical assistance. The law now faces strong opposition from the Catholic church and from Christian democrats members of parliament. It is unclear at the moment if the law will be eventually passed in its original form. Prodi has even chastised several members of his cabinet who supported with their presence a pro same-sex marriage legislation demonstration.
For more information visit this article in English by the Corriere della Sera newspaper: DICO article.
- ↑ Berlusconi bids for Catholic vote in Sunday's polls 
- ↑ Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage, Angus Reid Global Monitor, 24 December 2006 (based on Eurobarometer data)
- ↑ Italians Divided Over Civil Partnership Law, Angus Reid Global Monitor, 21 February 2007
- ↑ Template:It icon L’omosessualità in Italia
- ↑ Peter Popham, Italy finally ready to recognise the suffering of gays in Holocaust, The Independent, 21 January 2005
- ↑ http://www.codice-penale.com/titolo-dodicesimo-delitti-persona.htm.
- ↑ Text of Legislation (In Italian) 
- ↑ Text of Decision (In Italian) 
- ↑ Text of Legislation (In Italian) 
- ↑ Italian Parliament Moves Forward On Gay Unions Bill, 365gay.com, 28 September 2006
- ↑ Italian City Creates Country's First Domestic Partner Registry, 365gay.com, 6 December 2006
- ↑ "Miles de personas exigen a Prodi en Roma que regule las parejas de hecho", El Pais, 2007-03-10. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.